Articles on this Page
- 12/23/14--21:09: _Hocker looking at j...
- 12/30/14--20:05: _Matt’s Fish Camp be...
- 12/30/14--20:32: _‘Miss Dorothy’ bids...
- 12/30/14--20:50: _Civil War Profiles:...
- 12/30/14--20:54: _Ocean View police u...
- 12/30/14--20:58: _South Bethany awash...
- 12/30/14--20:59: _FOIA complaint file...
- 12/30/14--21:00: _OVPD first in state...
- 12/30/14--21:03: _Route 26 detour beg...
- 12/30/14--21:03: _K-9 Hardy welcomed ...
- 12/30/14--21:07: _OVPD adds training ...
- 01/08/15--12:35: _No children on scho...
- 01/08/15--12:38: _County alters agend...
- 01/08/15--12:45: _Elected County offi...
- 01/08/15--12:48: _Frankford forms com...
- 01/08/15--12:49: _Groundbreaking set ...
- 01/08/15--12:49: _Selbyville ‘relaxes...
- 01/08/15--12:51: _Frankford election ...
- 01/08/15--12:53: _DelDOT Secretary Bh...
- 01/15/15--08:37: _BART donates DVD’s ...
- 12/30/14--20:05: Matt’s Fish Camp beer dinners in full swing
- 12/30/14--20:32: ‘Miss Dorothy’ bids farewell to Frankford library
- 12/30/14--20:50: Civil War Profiles: Newspaper partisanship in Civil War Delaware
- 12/30/14--20:54: Ocean View police upgrade body camera program
- 12/30/14--20:58: South Bethany awash in transfer tax revenue
- 12/30/14--20:59: FOIA complaint filed against County over agenda order
- 12/30/14--21:00: OVPD first in state to carry drug to treat overdoses
- 12/30/14--21:03: Route 26 detour begins Monday
- 12/30/14--21:03: K-9 Hardy welcomed to OVPD
- 12/30/14--21:07: OVPD adds training and K-9 officer to anti-heroin initiative
- 01/08/15--12:35: No children on school bus in accident
- 01/08/15--12:38: County alters agenda, public comment offered at start of meetings
- 01/08/15--12:45: Elected County officials sworn in this week in Georgetown
- 01/08/15--12:48: Frankford forms committees for policing and healthcare
- 01/08/15--12:49: Groundbreaking set for Bayside McDonald’s
- 01/08/15--12:49: Selbyville ‘relaxes’ approval process for planned communities
- 01/08/15--12:51: Frankford election approaches, residents question process
- 01/08/15--12:53: DelDOT Secretary Bhatt leaving to lead Colorado department
- 01/15/15--08:37: BART donates DVD’s of theatre productions to South Coastal Library
Jobs and the economy will be at the forefront of the agenda for state Sen. Gerald Hocker (R-20th) this coming year. Additionally, Hocker said he would like to focus on finding a compromise on aquaculture and getting additional police protection downstate.
“It’s something I get a lot of calls on. It’s going to be a priority in how we deal with it,” he explained. Hocker said he would like to see a larger state police presence, especially in Sussex County.
As regards job creation and boosting the economy, Hocker admitted it’s not news to be emphasizing their importance, but he expressed frustration with results thus far.
“I don’t know of anybody that didn’t campaign about jobs and the economy, but then they go to Dover and do the opposite. Just look up what we have passed to create jobs in the private sector.”
“I’d like to see a jobs bill created through the private sector and not on the backs of taxpayers,” he continued. “The State is trying to buy manufacturing jobs, and they need to create incentive through the private sector and not with taxpayer dollars.”
He related that his own story as a businessman — of starting out with five employees in 1971 and growing to where he is today, owning multiple grocery stores, a hardware store and more — as being nearly impossible now.
“My wife and I started in 1971. If it was 2014, we’d be in trouble. We just couldn’t make it happen today,” he said, adding that he believes there are just too many regulations, which he said costs job growth in Delaware. He added that he didn’t have a lot of confidence that that was going to change going in to the new year.
“With our president and General Assembly — no, I’m not confident. I always say I would love to see more businesspeople in the General Assembly — people from both parties, so we can work together to change it.
“Years ago, you had manufacturing representatives, and now you have very few. I’d much rather have somebody in there that has had to make payroll and pay bills than somebody that has lived off the backs of the taxpayers. The two think completely different.”
He added that he hopes someone who has owned a business and has made those types of decisions will step up as the next governor. Asked if that person might be him, Hocker didn’t discount the notion, saying, “I think I have proven myself. I don’t think anybody can take that away from me.”
He added that his success is because of the types of people that he has around him. “I have good employees that have helped me grow my business. I just don’t see that kind of cooperation in our current administration.”
Specifically, for this coming legislative year, he said he hopes to be able to take a look at the prevailing wage, noting he wasn’t against it — he just thought it should be “recalculated so it’s a fair prevailing wage.”
According to the State of Delaware, prevailing rates have to be paid on new construction projects with a price tag of more than $100,000 and on “alteration, repair, renovation, rehabilitation, demolition or reconstruction projects” greater than $15,000. That affects projects where “the State or any subdivision thereof must be a party to the public works contract; and, the State must have appropriated any part of the funds.”
Hocker said the law needs to be completely “revamped,” so the limits can be raised and so small contractors can bid on the smaller jobs. “It would save the taxpayers millions and put people to work,” he said.
“There are ways to create jobs in this state without being on the backs of taxpayers. The working man just can’t afford much anymore. Just look at the additional people that are on welfare and food stamps in the last six years. We have to get those people working. There are ways to turn it around. We need to get people back to work.”
Regarding aquaculture, Hocker said he would like to see the industry get “started on the right foot in the right area.”
He said the places the State has proposed — the Little Assawoman Bay, the Indian River Bay and the Rehoboth Bay — are recreational areas and, while he agrees aquaculture should come to fruition and would “be a great thing for Delaware,” he thinks corrections need to be made in where it would occur.
“It’s good for Delaware, he said. “I think we need to concentrate on fulfilling an industry to create jobs in Delaware.”
Hocker and state Rep. Ron Gray hosted a full house for a public meeting on the subject of aquaculture at the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s fire hall this past October and invited representatives of DNREC, the Center for Inland Bays and University of Delaware to speak to the many local residents about their concerns about how aquaculture might affect recreation and homeowners in the designated aquaculture areas.
Matt’s Fish Camp in North Bethany on Dec. 17 hosted a four-course beer dinner featuring Oskar Blues Brewery that aimed to prove that beer, like wine, does pair well with food. The restaurant is holding beer dinners in the off-season on the third Wednesday of each month. The next event is scheduled for Jan. 21.
“In the off-season, when there’s more time, we give our chefs an opportunity to get creative with special events, including these beer dinners, also held regularly at Fish On,” said Scott Kammerer, president and CEO of SoDel Concepts, which has eight coastal restaurants, as well as Plate Catering and Big Thunder Roadside Kitchen, a food truck.
“We also do a lot of charitable functions to showcases our chefs’ talent. Collaboration is one of our strong suits, and with eight restaurants — and Plate Catering — we can have two or three chefs work together on a menu, giving them an opportunity to learn from each other and giving guests a memorable experience.”
On Dec. 17, the reception included golden raisin, pear and walnut bread with whipped local honey butter, paired with Momma’s Little Yella Pils. Next was a winter green salad with radicchio, Belgium endive, baby kale, Danish blue cheese, candied persimmon, spiced nuts — dressed with caramel apple vinaigrette — served with Deviant Dale’s IPA.
The next course, seared dayboat scallops with shaved pan-roasted Brussels sprouts, was paired with G’Knight Dry Hopped Double Red IPA. Old Chub Scotch Ale Nitro was the inspiration for maple-brined roasted pork belly with braised fennel and escarole, winter herb-roasted new potatoes and bacon jus. For dessert, guests were offered a dark chocolate and tangerine tort with sugarplums and blood orange sauce, served with Ten Fidy Stout.
“Matt’s Fish Camp is perfect for this kind of event,” said Ronnie Burkle, a corporate chef with SoDel Concepts, who collaborated for the Oskar Blues event with Matt’s Fish Camp’s chef, Casey Cunningham. “It’s an intimate setting, so we can really talk about why the beer pairs well with the food and all the nuances. We can get to know our guests and they can get to know each other.”
For information on the series or reservations, call John Scruggs, general manager of Matt’s Fish Camp, at (302) 539-CAMP (2267).
After 15 years, a friendly face is retiring from the Frankford Public Library children’s program. “Miss Dorothy” Fisch led her last preschool storytime for a handful of wiggling children before she retired on Dec. 17.
But these youngsters are just a few of the hundreds of children Fisch read to since she arrived in 1999.
Although she turned 71 this month, Fisch grabbed a box of jingle bells and led a round of Christmas carols at her final storytime session. She and the children jumped up and down to the beat of the bells.
“She has a lot of energy,” parent Crystal Blakeney said. “She’s really joyful, and they love it when she sings.”
Fisch even filled a request for “The Alphabet Song.”
Shelley Stevens has seen her grandchildren cry at the thought of missing storytime. She takes young Bridget to library programs year-round.
“She goes to school next year, so she’s ready,” Stevens said. “She loves Miss Dorothy. All the kids do.”
With a soft, but enthusiastic tone, Fisch always has a smile for the children, too.
But storytime isn’t just about reading. It’s creativity, motor skills and more.
“I like the fact that we emphasize socialization. It’s something you work on at all ages,” Fisch said.
After crafts and playtime, the kids also helped clean. And they loved that responsibility. Fisch handed everyone a cleaning wipe for the table (later laughing that children have tried to clean every surface they could reach).
For years, she’s created programs for children ages 2 to 12 (sometimes all at once, which is a challenge). She tries to be very mindful of her audience, but to also be flexible.
“She’s wonderful. She’s really organized and good with the kids,” Blakeney said.
“What you have planned may not always work out. … Sometimes you have to shuffle,” Fisch said.
She recalled past programs at which busloads of children arrived, unannounced, from a local daycare. She and her helpers hustled like mad but produced a craft and snack for every child.
“I’ve moved my share of chairs. … You pitch right in and do it,” she said. “I’ve been blessed with good health and [helpers].”
With armfuls of library books and crafts, the children (and some adults) paused for hugs and farewells.
“They love her. My son made her a Christmas card,” Blakeney said.
“I’m going to miss all that,” said Fisch. “I’m going to miss the hugs and smiles. … There comes a time to focus on other things,” she added, saying she plans to be active in her Millville community and church. “This is going to be a first for me not working!”
Memories from tots to teens
But her memories are sweet. Once, a bunch of volunteers helped her act out the book “Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears.”
“That was just so neat,” Fisch said. “We had all these characters, like the lion, iguana … and the mosquito.”
For her Scotland program, a family wore kilts and played bagpipes for everyone.
She has run bilingual reading programs with former librarian Rosa Castro. She taught wellness to adolescents, focusing on healthy eating, sleeping well and more. She even piloted a math and science program in an empty lot, where “we could experiment to our hearts’ content.”
“I’m a teacher, so I’m used to having integrated programs, combining math and science with music and literacy,” she said. “It opened up a whole new way of … educating the children.”
Even before PAWS For Reading brought therapy dogs to libraries, Fisch invited dogs, cats, birds and rabbits for an audience for children to practice reading to at the Frankford library.
“Some of the older ones like to do it, too, because they don’t have a dog at home and it’s calming to pet the dog,” she said.
“It’s been amazing to watch the different people I’ve known achieve their dreams,” she added. “It really has been very rewarding. I think it’s been a very good match for me at this point in my life.”
With a master’s degree in secondary education, Fisch taught high school for several years, then worked in the Penn State library while her husband studied for his doctorate. During that time, her daughter was born.
When they moved to the Washington, D.C., area, Fisch took library classes. Then she taught children ages 3 to 5 at a Lutheran school for 24 years.
When the couple retired to Sussex County, the lifelong teacher was a little stunned when autumn came.
“It’s September. You’re supposed to be getting your classroom ready,” she thought. “In October, I saw the position advertised,” she added of the Frankford Public Library.
Library as a community center
“This library’s been so good for this town. It’s a neutral place, and everyone’s welcome,” said Fisch. “It’s nice to see someone at the library as someone who can help you.”
“I never really used the library ’til I started bringing the kids,” Stevens admitted. “They really do have a lot here.”
Despite leading the children’s program, Fisch has helped the small library serve teens and adults. She herself is inspired by library patrons who make the most of their own situations.
“I feel embraced by the children and the families,” she said. “The community has been so welcoming.”
She thanked groups for hosting past summer reading programs that were too large for the tiny library in its pre-renovation days: Frankford Presbyterian Church, Frankford United Methodist Church and the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company.
She also thanked past helpers, from librarians to teens, plus the parents and grandparents who were “so accepting.”
“It has been a pleasure” to have Fisch, said Library Director Rachel Wackett. She offered “heartfelt gratitude for everything Dorothy’s done” and wished her a great retirement.
“Dorothy’s brought the love of early literacy to an entire generation of children in this area. We hope they will continue to be inspired.”
Frankford will hire a new children’s librarian and continue growing the children’s program to focus on older children, “while always maintaining early literacy,” Wackett said.
“I’m going to miss everybody. The programs will go on. It’ll be exciting,” Fisch said. “Pretty soon the children will be bonding to a new person.”
But Fisch will hold a special place in the hearts of children who came through Frankford over the past 15 years.
In pre-Civil War America, the dominant newspapers were based in New York: James Gordon Bennett’s Herald, Horace Greeley’s Tribune and Henry J. Raymond’s Times. However, as Brayton Harris points out in “Newspapers in the Civil War,” the invention and expanded use of the telegraph and a soaring literacy rate in the U.S. led to a quadrupling of active newspapers across the country between 1825 and 1860.
In Delaware, as the Civil War loomed, erupted and progressed, those seeking control of the political process allied with likeminded newspaper editors to expand and encourage their constituencies. These journals heralded partisan viewpoints on behalf of their political patrons.
The two wings of the state’s Democratic Party, under the respective leadership of Sen. James A. Bayard and Sen. Willard Saulsbury, struggled for supremacy through their press organs. The Delaware Gazette, a Wilmington newspaper, supported Bayard, while Dover’s Delawarean was the outlet for Saulsbury’s pronouncements.
Sam Townsend of New Castle County challenged Bayard and Saulsbury, both of whom supported the Southern concept of states’ rights and the institution of slavery, for control of the Democrat Party.
Townsend favored Stephen A. Douglas, a senator from Illinois, who was campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1860. Townsend’s voice in print was the Delaware Inquirer, a newly established newspaper whose editor was James A. Montgomery.
Harold Bell Hancock writes in “Delaware during the Civil War” that Townsend’s opposition did not prevail. Delaware Democrats sent delegates to the party presidential convention in Charleston, S.C., with a mandate to cast votes for states’ rights candidates.
The Gazette reported that Sen. Bayard and Rep. William G. Whiteley represented New Castle County. John Barr Pennington and John H. Bewley carried the banner for Kent County, while Saulsbury and former Gov. William Ross spoke for Sussex County. All were hostile to Douglas, who favored compromise on the slavery issue.
At the Charleston convention in April 1860, the Delaware representatives split over the secession question, with Bayard and Whiteley walking out to join a splinter group that met in support of states that had seceded from the Union. While the Gazette remained silent over this issue, the Delawarean took the supporters of secession to task in “a series of bitter editorials.”
The Republican Party in Delaware was hard pressed to take advantage of divisions among rival Democrats. There was virtually no liking for Republicans in Kent and Sussex counties, and what favor there was came mostly from manufacturers and their employees in New Castle County.
Dr. J.S. Prettyman’s Peninsular News & Advertiser, based in Milford, was the only Republican Party newspaper in the entire state. However, two others — the Delaware Republican and the Delaware Journal — differed with the Democrats, and eventually sided with the Republicans.
Because of Republican Party weakness, opposition to the Democrats came from the People’s Party, which often was philosophically aligned with the Republicans. The platforms of both parties included protective tariffs that the business community favored and restriction of immigration — a holdover from the nativist and now-defunct Whig party.
The Delaware Republican claimed that 90 percent of the People’s Party favored representation at the Republican national convention. In condemnation, the Gazette editorialized with considerable bitterness that both the Journal and the Republican were only posing as organs of the People’s Party; while, in fact, were leaning toward “Black Republicanism.”
In Delaware, the overriding issue in the forthcoming presidential election was that of race. The Democratic editor of the Gazette condemned the Republican “doctrine of equality [that] would seat the black man at the white man’s tables, marry him to his daughters, place him on juries, and elect him to the legislature.”
While Abraham Lincoln won the presidency on the Republican ticket, Delaware voted for the secessionist Southern Democratic candidate, John C. Breckinridge — thereby demonstrating its anti-Republicanism.
In exasperation, the Democratic-leaning Delawarean attributed Lincoln’s election to “the folly of his enemies” who fought among themselves and undermined what would have been a near certain victory.
In an effort to stem the outbreak of national conflict, independent newspapers in the state, such as the Smyrna Times, urged federal evacuation of Fort Sumter, S.C., a potential flashpoint between North and South. As Hancock relates, that flashpoint exploded on April 12, 1861, when Confederates bombarded the fort.
In Sussex County, the independent Georgetown Messenger’s editor flat-out recommended “hanging secessionists to preserve the government and free institutions.” In contrast, the editor of the Democratic Gazette was conciliatory and believed that, in Sussex, “the voice of the people … acknowledged their devotion to the Union.” The Republican concurred that, in lower Delaware, “Union feeling predominates everywhere except in Smyrna,” where secessionist sympathy abides.
The partisan journals in Delaware set a tone during the election and outset of warfare that continued the next four years. Conflict on the battlefield was reflected in how the news was reported and editorialized on the home front.
Bethany Beach resident Thomas J. Ryan is the author of “Essays on Delaware during the Civil War” (available at Bethany Beach Books). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website at
Last month, the Ocean View Police Department purchased body cameras for its officers, but OVPD Chief Ken McLaughlin emphasized that it wasn’t in response to recent discussions nationwide about police interactions with suspects and the public. OVPD officers have been wearing cameras for almost five years.
“We’ve had a body camera program for a couple years now. It’s not what everyone thinks it is — we’re not doing it in response to anything that has happened recently,” said Chief Ken McLaughlin. “We’ve had cameras in every one of our patrols cars for 10 years now, as have most law enforcement agencies in the state of Delaware.”
The new Vievu LE3 cameras are built to military specifications, with an internal microphone, making them more robust than the old ones, which McLaughlin said he hopes will help them last longer. The new cameras were paid for out of the department’s budget and cost approximately $900 each. The older cameras cost approximately $60 each.
The cameras can clip to the officers’ uniforms and are slightly bigger than their old cameras — about the size of a pager.
McLaughlin said the department was excited about the new cameras, and even more excited about the secure software that goes with them.
“With the old system, you had to hook up to your computer and download everything. This doesn’t have the encrypted software, so it could potentially be manipulated,” he explained of the old system.
“The new cameras come with software where you put the camera on the cradle and it downloads all the data to a special system on our server,” he said. “The officers can view the files, but they can’t manipulate it in any way. They can’t alter the video.”
According to the Vievu website, the software deals with “the storage, retrieval and management of video files from Vievu law enforcement camera systems. The VeriPatrol software utilizes a FIPS 140-2 compliant digital signature process to prove that the video has not been altered, and VidLock security prevents unauthorized access if the camera is lost or stolen.”
The software will also allow the officers to add additional information about each complaint record to accompany the video and make it easier for the videos to be located in the department’s system.
McLaughlin said the body cameras have been successful over the years, especially with DUI cases.
“When we’ve used them the most is when we do our field sobriety tests and we’re recording them when they’re out of view of the car camera.”
“It gives you a totally different perspective,” added Cpl. Rhys Bradshaw. “On a DUI, from our car camera you may not catch everything. But when I’m seeing you swaying, the body cam may catch that.”
McLaughlin stated that, although the cameras can be helpful, they are not foolproof.
“There are a lot of limitations to these. This isn’t going to catch everything, and then it only gives you one angle. Think about a Sunday football game. It’s tied and in overtime. There’s a play that takes place and the opposing team throws a flag and calls for a review. How many different camera angles do they look at?
“You could have one camera angle that shows touchdown, and then you got another camera angle that shows he was six inches out. They might have a dozen different angles, and it still could be in debate. You could be outfitted with this camera, and it’s still not going to catch everything.”
The cameras will not be left on throughout an officer’s shift, which McLaughlin said has been the department’s existing policy.
“The big thing is you have to turn it on, which can be nearly impossible in the heat of the moment,” McLaughlin noted. As an example, he said, a body camera would not be engaged when an officer was simply speaking to a citizen on the street. “We wouldn’t record that conversation. But if it all of a sudden turned violent and the guy attacks you that quick, you’re never going to catch it.”
McLaughlin explained that the officer must manually engage the camera, since there are a number of situations, such as speaking to an informant on the street or engaging in a phone conversation with a spouse or family member, that shouldn’t be recorded.
“Some people think they should be on all the time,” he said. “We’re people, too. We have rights, too.”
Body cameras have other limitations, as well. According to a recent report from the Force Science Institute, body cameras don’t follow an officer’s eye movement, cannot pick up on “danger clues” and record at different speeds, which means what is captured on the video and what was seen by the officer could be completely different. The report also noted that an officer’s body may block the view of the camera.
“How much of a scene a camera captures is highly dependent on where it’s positioned and where the action takes place,” Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Institute, noted in the report. “Depending on location and angle, a picture may be blocked by your own body parts, from your nose to your hands.
“If you’re firing a gun or a Taser, for example, a camera on your chest may not record much more than your extended arms and hands. Or just … your stance may obscure the camera’s view. Critical moments within a scenario that you can see may be missed entirely by your body cam because of these dynamics, ultimately masking what a reviewer may need to see to make a fair judgment.”
McLaughlin said the department purchased cameras that do not record in high-definition, not only because more storage would be required for HD video, but because those cameras in some cases can record more than the human eye can see, thus misrepresenting the officer’s point of view.
“We also specifically bought cameras that didn’t have night-vision capabilities and whatnot, because a lot of them now… can do things that the human eye can’t do… The video in some cases can capture things that the human eye can’t.”
McLaughlin emphasized that the department did not upgrade its equipment due to recent reports of alleged police brutality.
“We’re not upgrading our videos to do anything other than enhance what we’ve already been doing. For the people out there saying this is going to solve some of these perceived problems with police brutality,” he said, “[according to the U.S. Department of Justice] 99 percent of the police encounters in 2013 in the United States resulted in no force being used — 99 percent of the encounters.”
McLaughlin said the new cameras will continue to show that the department is doing the right things, while also helping document evidence.
“It’s just a piece of the pie, but it’s a piece that we didn’t have before,” he said. “This is by no means the end-all/be-all. We’re just trying to take it to the next level and trying to make life a little easier for ourselves, as far as how we store the data. Hopefully, it will continue to prove advantageous to us.”
South Bethany is expecting an additional $100,000 in revenue above its current budget, thanks to an increase in transfer taxes. That will more than cover some unexpected expenses in the 2015-fiscal-year budget, for the period ending April 30, 2015.
South Bethany has already surpassed its original transfer tax estimate of $250,000.
“We had already had, at the end of November, around $275,000,” said Council Treasurer Tim Saxton. “And when we looked at historical averages, we thought if those trends were to continue, we’d hit $350,000. So we revised our estimate.”
The South Bethany Town Council voted 6-1 at its December meeting to amend that budget line with the revised figure.
Although council members said future reports will show original and amended projections, Councilman Al Rae said he preferred to leave the number as is, so they could see the unadulterated number.
Saxton admitted that the line item didn’t need to change. But the Town will pay more bank fees on that higher income, so he wanted to show all increases.
South Bethany will also pay about $13,115 more than expected in several areas. The town council approved increases to expenses including: real estate transfer tax fees increased by $3,500 to a total of $6,000; general insurance by $2,500 to $74,000; audits and accounting by $1,350 to $9,650; bank charges by $2,250 to $4,250; public safety advertising (due to several retirements) by $1,296; the new public relations committee by $600; and emergency automobiles by $1,618.
“The bottom line is: these are just adjustments we did because some of these accounts had gone a little over expense. We asked for additional monies, but we increased revenue,” Saxton said.
“We increased our revenue by $100,000, so we clearly offset it.”
In other news from the December council meeting:
• The council unanimously approved new rules for any town committee members seeking reimbursement from the Town for council-related expenses.
Future reimbursements must be first presented to a councilmember. Currently, committee members can just bring receipts to the financial director to be paid back.
“No one objects to the committee members spending money. … I’m just asking for some kind of control,” Saxton said. He suggested a little more oversight so the financial director isn’t as responsible for multiple committees.
The Budget & Finance Committee will design a system by which the committee’s overseeing council member (or the council treasurer) signs off on the receipt, in essence authorizing the repayment. The Budget & Finance Committee will develop the paperwork to make that happen.
• Police Chief Troy Crowson shared details from his October trip to a conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He attended programs on grant writing, responding to individuals with mental health disorders, critical incidents and disasters, reducing traffic-related injuries and more. He also learned about new technology that may help South Bethany prevent crime or catch perpetrators, such as software to prevent criminal impersonation.
• The council reviewed the community survey that residents and property owners will be asked to complete this year.
• A public hearing for the new proposed floodplain ordinance, as part of the update of FEMA-related flood maps, will be held at the next town council workshop, on Thursday, Jan. 29, at 5 p.m.
The ordinance reflects updates to Zoning Chapter 145 of Town Code: Article XIV (Coastal Floodplain Regulations); Article III (Definitions); Article VI (Establishment of Districts); and Article XV, (Board of Adjustment).
In October, Greenwood resident Dan Kramer filed a complaint with the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, contending that the Sussex County Council had violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by allegedly listing an agenda item, “Additional Business,” out of the order listed in its internal Rules of Procedure.
In his complaint, Kramer stated that FOIA requires all voting take place in public.
“The out-of-order item was listed after the listing of the Executive Session (Caught the Public by Complete Surprise),” wrote Kramer in the October complaint. “When I questioned the County Clerk why the item was posted out of order, her reply was, ‘I only follow orders.’ Who had the authority to tell the County Clerk to post this item out of order? Nobody, when you look at the County Council’s Rules of Procedures, which the Council votes and approves every January.”
Kramer’s concern, which has been voiced at council meetings, is that in changing the order of the items, public comment may not occur until after the council concludes its executive session, which can vary in length and are a point in the agenda when many members of the public may choose to leave.
“Some of the executive sessions last over two hours,” wrote Kramer.
Earlier this week, Kramer told Coastal Point that the change could negatively affect county residents who wish to speak during the “Additional Business” portion of the meetings.
“The average Joe coming in off the street, wanting to say something, do you think they’re going to sit there for two hours while they go into executive session?” asked Kramer, adding that, in contrast, he recalls a recent executive session that lasted approximately 15 minutes. “If I had left a minute earlier, I would’ve missed my chance, and that applies to all people.”
“The change occurred to place additional business at the end of the meeting after all matters have been brought before Council,” Chip Guy, communications director for the County told Coastal Point earlier this week. “That is a logical place on a meeting agenda since, based on its labeling, ‘additional business’ implies all other matters have been brought up, discussed and presumably acted upon.
“Thus, anything else is ‘additional business,’” he explained. “It was a minor scheduling change intended to improve efficiency. Certainly if a matter is expected to take longer in executive session, we can and have adjusted the agenda in those instances to accommodate the public.”
In his complaint, Kramer stated that items in the Aug. 12 council agenda were listed out of order.
In County Attorney J. Everett Moore’s response to Kramer’s FOIA complaint, he stated that in Rule 1.1 of the Sussex County Rules of Procedure it “does not have a set placement for ‘Executive Session,’” and that it may be placed anywhere in the meeting, as long as the placement has received a majority vote, taken in public.”
While in previous meetings “Additional Business” had been placed prior to the council’s executive sessions, Moore said the change in the order of the agenda was properly noticed, as required by Delaware Code.
Moore added that, while the County, by law, must guarantee public access to meetings, the inclusion of “Additional Business” is “not a legal requirement.”
“The County acknowledges that it discussed ‘Additional Business’ prior to going into Executive Session, which was not the order of business set forth on the adopted agenda,” wrote Moore of the County’s Sept. 23 meeting. “However, as stated previously, no action is ever taken on ‘Additional Business’ items. Therefore, the public suffered no harm.”
He added that “no substantive County business” was discussed during the “Additional Business” portion of the Sept. 23 meeting.
“At this time, the County is awaiting a response from the Attorney General regarding the complaint. It is our position that no violation has occurred,” Guy stated.
The new council term begins Jan. 6, at which time new councilman Rob Arlett will be sworn in. According to Guy, at that meeting the council will consider its Rules of Procedure, including the Order of Business, and could make changes.
A few weeks ago, if an Ocean View police officer arrived on the scene of a suspected drug overdose, they were unable to administer naloxone hydrochloride — more commonly known as Narcan — a drug that can counteract the effects of an overdose of opioid drugs, legal or otherwise.
“We’re the first agency in the state to have it. In fact, we’re the only agency in the state to have it,” said OVPD Chief Ken McLaughlin.
All the officers in the department completed a 30-minute online training course, overseen by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, prior to being able to receive access to the drug.
“You put it in the nose and give it a squirt, and it counteracts the effects of the overdose,” said McLaughlin of the ease of administering Narcan.
The drug comes as a nasal spray in kits that include sterile gloves and will be kept in the trunks of officers’ cars.
“We’ve got a pretty good track record of being first on the scene. Our policy is that we respond to all EMS and fire calls within our jurisdiction. If nothing else, we’re an extra set of hands for the guys on the ambulance to help them with the stretcher or traffic control.”
The drug does not have any adverse effects on the person treated, whether they’ve overdosed or not, so it can be safely administered even when an overdose is only suspected, rather than known.
According to the Center for Decease Control, middle-aged adults have the highest overdose rate, and those in rural counties are twice as likely to overdose on prescription medications as those who live in urban areas.
McLaughlin said that, with the heroin problem facing the whole country, he wanted his department to look at what it could do to respond to the problem.
“I don’t know that it’s getting worse, but it’s certainly not getting any better. It’s out there; we know it’s out there. It seems to be a growing problem in the state of Delaware and throughout the United States.
“We sat down and said, ‘We know it’s a problem. Everybody’s talking about it. What are we going to do about it?’ One of the things we looked at — we knew we were going on these overdose calls, and we’re getting there and we’re basically helpless.”
The department has responded to a number of overdoses over the years; however, a recent call to aid a 25-year-old man hit McLaughlin hard.
“We didn’t have this drug at the time… This one, in particular, it was a man who grew up in the area… It was a little frustrating to me, knowing that these guys got there as soon as they could. There were obvious signs of heroin use — the guy still had a needle in his arm — and these guys jumped on him with CPR and the defibrillator, and were unsuccessful.
“That particular case bothered me… that we weren’t able to do more, knowing that this stuff was out there and that other police departments across the country had been using it for years. It was part of their first aid kit.”
In August, Gov. Jack Markell signed House Bill 388, allowing law enforcement officers to carry and administer the medication. The bill provides legal immunity to officers who administer the drug in good faith.
“By equipping law enforcement officers with an important tool to prevent deadly overdoses, we can help reduce the toll that heroin and other dangerous opiates are taking on our state,” said Markell at the bill signing. “This simple piece of legislation has the potential to save lives.”
McLaughlin said amnesty is granted to those who call law enforcement to have them administer the drug, as well as those who have overdosed.
“We want to encourage them to call us. We don’t want to discourage them to call us out of fear that they might get in trouble.”
Prior to signing HB 288, Markell signed a companion bill, Senate Bill 219, allowing family, friends and members of the community to buy Narcan after they have been trained by the Department of Health & Social Services.
“If you had a child that was a heroin addict, you could go through this class,” said McLaughlin.
Once the legislation was passed, McLaughlin said, he jumped on the opportunity to have his officers carry Narcan.
“Our job is to save lives,” along with enforcement, he said.
The New Castle County Police Department is following the OVPD in getting its officers certified to carry the drug and is currently in the certification process.
“We wanted to get a strategy to do something,” McLaughlin explained. “Having our guys carry this is just one part of that.”
Route 26 will close in two locations for construction, starting Monday, Jan. 5. The three-month closure is scheduled to end March 30.
Two bridge culverts must be replaced where Route 26 crosses water, just east of Millville Town Hall and just east of Lord Baltimore Elementary School.
“You’ll be able to drive the whole length of Route 26. … You just won’t be able to drive where the bridge is,” said Ken Cimino, project manager for AECOM.
This is part of the Route 26 Mainline project to widen the road, adding a center turn lane for 4.5 miles, as well as shoulders and sidewalk. (Sewer systems are also being expanded simultaneously, but under the auspices of Sussex County, not under the direction of Delaware Department of Transportation.)
“Box culverts are structures that carry water underneath the roadway,” Cimino explained to members of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce in December.
Vehicles will be able to access all of Route 26 during the closure, but with some extra driving.
Detours for drivers
Several years ago, the “Detour Routes” project improved the back roads to prepare for traffic impacted by the 2.5-year Mainline project.
The official detour route westbound leads from Central Avenue (east of the detour, by Fulton Bank) to Cedar Drive (inside the detour, by Giant) or Windmill Road (west of the detour, by Millville Town Hall).
However, no one can prevent people from using other local roads.
Eastbound drivers hoping to skip construction completely, to reach Bethany Beach and Route 1 (Coastal Highway), can detour on DelDOT-improved roads: Burbage Road, Windmill Road, Central Avenue, Beaver Dam (via Parker House Road) and Muddy Neck Road.
Pedestrians will get a temporary bridge crossing near Lord Baltimore. But in Millville, pedestrians will be detoured around Windmill Road and Dukes Drive to Route 26.
Businesses are open
Although barricades will block Route 26 at the detours, people are allowed to continue straight down the road to access nearby homes or businesses.
“You simply make sure there’s no one coming [then drive around the barricade]. You can continue down Route 26,” Cimino said. “Cars will be able to get to your business.”
To manage the detour traffic, DelDOT has installed two temporary traffic signals on Central Avenue, at the intersections of Cedar Drive and Windmill Drive. The temporary signals will control traffic during the three-month detour. Loop detectors and other controls will help ensure traffic keeps moving swiftly.
To get people acclimated to the signals, they will flash for 72 hours, starting this weekend, before the road closure.
“When we actually close the road down, at midnight, they’ll go full color,” Cimino said.
Additionally, two stop signs will be temporarily removed from Central Avenue at the Woodland Avenue intersection.
The weather vs.
Contractor George & Lynch is limited to those 85 days between Jan. 5 and March 30 for the closure. If it exceeds that deadline, a penalty is attached, unless the delay is weather-related and cannot be helped.
Most materials are pre-cast, so freezing weathers shouldn’t have an impact. However, there are a few concrete pours that will require favorable weather.
“There are no guarantees on anything. It is DelDOT’s intent and the contractor’s intent to be done March 30th,” Cimino said.
“They know what kind of work commitment they have,” said state Rep. Ron Gray, adding that he had gotten the impression that G&L will do what is needed, including working seven days per week.
“With good weather and good luck, hopefully, we’ll get it done sooner,” said Cimino.
Closing the roadway is a major milestone for the project. Despite losing 32 days of construction to weather in early 2014, the major intersections were completed, allowing culvert work to occur this winter.
The construction still has an anticipated end date of late July 2016. George & Lynch has more than a year to make up for any lost time. Otherwise, it’s a $12,000 daily penalty, Cimino said.
“We’re making really good progress. We’re moving along,” Cimino said. “The day we’re closing the road will be one year” from the very beginning of construction.
Next summer will resemble last summer, he said, as roadwork will continue, although lane closures will only be permitted on weeknights.
and other issues
“We’re responsible for snow removal. George & Lynch will plow mainline 26 inches for two inches of snow or more, Cimino said. “I’ll be on-site every storm, directing the contractor’s resources.”
DelDOT usually plows primary roads, then secondary streets later. However, the official detour route is now considered the primary route, so DelDOT will focus on Central Avenue, Cedar Drive and Windmill Road too.
As public outreach coordinator, Cimino personally responds to all questions and complaints regarding Route 26 construction. Residents and businesses can contact him at (302) 616-2621 or Kenneth.Cimino@aecom.com.
“If we don’t know, we can’t fix it,” he said. “I try to be very forthcoming.”
Some businesses already call him regularly if they see something they believe is unsafe or inappropriate. That includes equipment parking where it shouldn’t or heavy machinery travelling down the road unescorted.
“They’re supposed to adhere to all motor-safety laws,” Cimino said of the work crews, although there is some question as to what is allowed, since the machines are working in multiple locations.
As of mid-December, he said, no collisions have been caused by contractor equipment.
“For him, this isn’t work — it’s play,” said Ocean View Police Department Officer Justin Hopkins of his new partner, Hardy.
Hardy, a 16-month-old German shepherd, joined the department in November, when he and Hopkins began their training together.
Hopkins, who has been with the department for almost three years, said he and Hardy are now certified as a K-9 team.
The OVPD chose Hardy through the help of a vendor. He was selected from Czechoslovakia, based on a number of factors, including breed and temperament.
“We were able to select from six dogs that would fit Ocean View’s specific needs,” said Hopkins. “His training started when he was a puppy.”
Since Hardy was already certified, he and Hopkins went through a month of in-depth training, covering patrol work, which includes tracking and bite work.
Hardy’s tracking abilities, which OVPD Chief Ken McLaughlin has seen in training, can aid officers in locating someone at any given time.
“Say we’re looking for a lost Alzheimer’s patient — the dog can actually pick up the scent and help us locate the person — or if a subject has fled from police,” said McLaughlin.
Hardy and his training were paid for through grants acquired by the department, and McLaughlin said that, within his first week in the department, the dog had aided in two drug-related arrests.
Bite work may be the most sensational aspect of a K-9 officer’s job; however, McLaughlin said it will be the least-used skill Hardy has.
“Bite work will probably be the thing we use the least,” he said. “The bite work is more designed for handler protection.”
Hardy is also trained in narcotics detection — certified to detect marijuana, heroin and methamphetamines, to name a few.
“You name it, he can find it,” said Hopkins. “The dog doesn’t know it’s bad. He knows, ‘Every time I find this particular odor I get a treat.’ For them, they operate on a scale, as far as a praise system, the lowest level being praise — me just saying, ‘Good boy.’ The next is ‘Toy,’ and then ‘Bite.’ He thinks it’s a big game, and that’s his biggest reward.”
When detecting narcotics, Hopkins said, he needs to see a change in Hardy’s behavior as an indicator.
“You always hear, ‘The dog gave an alert.’ It’s not quite as simple as that,” he said, adding that Hardy could sit and stare or might aggress by clawing.
Hardy is also trained to focus on the task at hand and not get sidetracked.
“He has to be neutral to gunshots. He has to be neutral to anything that could be distracting,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins said he was first approached by McLaughlin last winter to see if he would be interested in being a part of a K-9 team.
“I took some time to really consider it, because it’s a huge responsibility,” said Hopkins. “Every day for me — even when I’m not technically on the job — is spending time with him, playing with him, maybe doing some tracking.”
Hopkins and Hardy started training in November and will continue training with the Delaware State Police each month.
“That’s part of his maintenance,” explained Hopkins. “It has to be every day. The best analogy I have is, you can be the best athlete in the world but you can’t just go out and run a marathon. You have to train every day for it.”
When they’re not in uniform, Hardy lives at home with Hopkins.
“At home, he’s just a normal dog. We play, he spends time with the family and we just do whatever we can to bond.”
However, even when they’re not clocked in, Hopkins and Hardy are always on duty, as they are on-call in the State system as a narcotics K-9 team.
“He’s the only drug dog, other than state police, in the area,” explained McLaughlin.
Hopkins said Hardy is his dog and is happy he’s joined the family.
“We’ve bonded, we’re partners.”
The Ocean View Police Department has been working on its own initiative to help combat the heroin problem that has been plaguing the town, state and country.
“Part of our job is enforcement. We want to detect and deter the drug activity in our area,” said OVPD Chief Ken McLaughlin.
The department is now certified to carry and administer naloxone hydrochloride — more commonly known as Narcan — a nasal spray that counteracts the effects of an opiate overdose.
Additionally, Sgt. Sidney Ballentine has received advanced training through the State Office of Highway Safety to enhance his ability to detect those who have been driving under the influence of narcotics once they’ve been stopped.
“We have officers assigned to DEA task force for Sussex County,” added McLaughlin. “We’re working with them in the hopes to expand their presence in southeastern Sussex County. So far, we’ve had some successes there.”
The most recent action aiding their initiative was to add a narcotics K-9 team to the department, with Officer Justin Hopkins overseeing K-9 Officer Hardy.
“There is a drug dog in the area now,” said McLaughlin. “There should be a deterrent factor. People who may otherwise come through our community, and for those who do decide to come, we have a little better chance of detecting them.”
McLaughlin said he hopes to continue to work to eliminate the heroin problem in the town.
Several fire departments responded to a three-vehicle collision on Monday, Jan. 5. Although a school bus was involved, no children were passengers at the time.
Millville Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched at 7:40 a.m. to a reported collision with one entrapment at Route 17 and Pepper’s Corner Road.
Three children and three adults were injured, but only five people were transported to local hospitals.
Roxana Volunteer Fire company assisted with patient care and debris cleanup. Delaware State Police continued the investigation.
Those who attend Sussex County Council meetings will now have the opportunity to speak to council at the beginning of the meeting.
After receiving complaints from citizens, along with a complaint filled by Greenwood resident Dan Kramer with the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, contending that the Sussex County Council had violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by allegedly listing an agenda item, “Additional Business,” out of the order listed in its internal Rules of Procedure, the council voted this week to change the order of the agenda.
Kramer’s complaint was filed in October, after an August council meeting where “Additional Business,” a time when the public is allowed to give comment, changed from before “Executive Session” to after “Executive Session.”
“Some people complained about that,” said Council President Michael Vincent, adding that their rationale was to give the public the opportunity to speak on everything, including Executive Session items.
“We got some public comment that they didn’t think they thought that was the right place to put it. Another comment we heard was if people come to county council meting they have no idea when they’re going to be on the agenda to speak to council. As you know, it can last a half hour to three hours.”
The council voted unanimously to alter its Rules of Procedure, by changing the terminology “Additions to Agenda” to read “Amendments to Agenda,” as well as inserting public comment at the beginning of each agenda.
“If you take off work, you can come in say what you’ve got to say. If you’re out of work it won’t take three or four hours to do that,” explained Vincent. “We’re going to try that, I think it makes common sense. Obviously it’s not cast in stone. If we need to modify something we’ll do that down the road.”
“It’s important to get public input and be respectful of their time,” added Councilman Rob Arlett.
Friends, family and community members gathered Tuesday morning to see five Sussex County officials sworn into office.
“It’s an exercise that by Delaware Code we have to partake in to officially embark in the services of the County Council and the County Row Offices,” said County Administrator Todd Lawson, encouraging the audience to take pictures. “We want this moment memorialized for you all for the significance of what this day means for you all and what it took to get here.”
In attendance were a number of members from the Delaware General Assembly, including District 38 Rep. Ron Gray and District 41 Rep. Rich Collins.
“Members of the General Assembly, we appreciate you being here as well. We appreciate your support always,” said Lawson. “Your lucky day is a week from today.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 6, Sussex County Superior Court Judge T. Henley Graves swore in Rob Arlett, who will represent District 5 on the Sussex County Council.
Arlett, of Frankford, was joined by his wife of 25 years, Lorna, and his youngest son, Jared.
Graves also swore in District 4 Councilman George Cole for his eighth term.
“It’s an honor,” said Graves of swearing in the elected officials.
“It is an honor because I want you to know he’s a Democrat,” joked Cole.
Graves also swore in re-elected Recorder of Deeds Scott Dailey and Register of Wills Cindy Green, who was joined by her husband, Lawrence.
Newly-elected Sussex County Sheriff Robert T. Lee was also sworn in by Graves, with his wife, Lori, by his side.
“I’m truly humbled that you’re all here today,” said Lee. “My promise is that we will do the best that we can.”
Following the December retirement of Frankford Police Chief William Dudley, Councilman Charles Shelton addressed residents regarding concerns that the Town’s police department would be disbanded.
“We are right now looking to get someone to replace him,” he said at the Town’s Jan. 5 monthly meeting. “We haven’t made a decision yet, but we do still want to keep police in the town of Frankford… We definitely want to keep the police department going.”
Shelton said he wants to keep Frankford a safe place to live, work and visit.
He requested that those residents who have an opinion as to whether or not the police department should remain in town or be disbanded, to contact him, so he could share those thoughts with the council.
Resident Bernard Lynch asked if the Town could appoint Officer Nate Hudson, who was hired to be the department’s second officer in April 2011, as chief of the department.
“We’d like to have more than one [officer],” responded Shelton. “I want what’s best for the town and hear what the people want,” he said, adding that he had spoken with other towns and their chiefs, as to how the Town should proceed.
Robbie Murray recommended that the Town form a committee with residents and other persons who have a special knowledge regarding law enforcement.
“You standing up there alone isn’t representing us,” he said.
Shelton said he had no problem working with community members to look into how the Town should move forward.
Property owner Kathy Murray said the idea of creating committees had been suggested in the past, without any action from council.
Council agreed to form a committee and to have Shelton and councilwoman Cheryl Workman head the committee. Resident Skip Ash, along with Robbie Murray, volunteered to join the committee. Dean Esham said he would let council know if he could serve on the committee.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” said council president Joanne Bacon.
At its December council meeting, the council voted unanimously to table its pension talks until the cost of healthcare for Town employees is addressed. However, at Monday’s meeting, it was said that during the December Executive Session, council requested a third party source, separate from the State.
Council said the healthcare discussions would take place during Town Executive Sessions, as it deals with the policies of its employees.
“That has to be under Executive Session,” said Bacon.
Resident Marty Presley said the healthcare discussions should be held in a public meeting, as it is a budget issue.
“I would say it comes under budget issues, not necessarily under Executive Session,” said Presley.
“It does when it comes under the policies of the employees, which is private,” said Bacon.
Presley, who had previously given presentations to the council regarding pension options, urged the council to hold workshops to review healthcare and pension options for Town employees.
“The Town really needs to benchmark how much they intend to spend on employee benefits, and that includes the pension plan.”
He asked council to take a look at the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and how it affects the Town.
“There are a lot of complicated things you need to take a look at,” he said, adding that the council needs to act quickly, as open enrollment on the Marketplace ends Feb. 15.
Residents vocalized that they felt council was not taking strides in addressing the Town’s healthcare and pension issues.
“For six months Marty has been here every week and has offered his services,” said Esham. “To not listen to him is insane.”
“It feels very much as though the issue is being passed forward, passed forward, put on the next agenda, passed forward,” said resident Elizabeth Carpenter. “Eventually, time will run out and then nothing can be done. Then the costs are going to go up and the people who are going to suffer that cost are the people who live here and that’s not okay with me.”
“We live here also. The decisions we make, we know they’re going to affect us also,” said Workman. “We’re trying.”
“We just want you to make an informed motion,” responded Kathy Murray.
Council also voted to create working committee to review healthcare options for the Town. Bacon and councilwoman Pam Davis volunteered to head the committee, while Carpenter who works in healthcare, and resident Gerry Smith.
In other Town news:
• The Town held its second reading of the Flood Plain Maintenance Ordinance as required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Kyle Gulbronson, of the engineering firm URS, told council that the ordinance would have to be approved by March 15, otherwise the Town can no longer participate in the Federal Flood Insurance Program. Gulbronson said the Town’s last Flood Plain Ordinance was updated in 1990.
“You’re very fortunate in Frankford,” he said. “You’re probably the town I know of in which the flood map hasn’t changed. You’re in really good shape.”
There will be a public hearing on the ordinance at the Town’s Feb. 3 council meeting.
• Kathy Murray requested to be placed on the February agenda regarding her letter of complaint against Workman and Town Administrator Terry Truitt. Murray addressed her complaint at the Town’s December meeting, In the letter she requested an apology from the two, and that they be reprimanded.
A ground-breaking ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 13, for a new McDonald’s in Selbyville, to be owned and operated by The Meoli Companies. The site of the restaurant will be at 36218 Lighthouse Road, Selbyville, west of Fenwick on Rt. 54, in the new Bayside CVS parking lot.
On hand to break ground will be Michael Meoli, owner of The Meoli Companies, as well as team members, and representatives from the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce. The general public is also invited to attend this ground-breaking ceremony.
The Meoli Companies has owned and operated six McDonald’s restaurants in Delaware, and has recently acquired more — with these additions, they now have a total of 13 restaurants.
For more information on The Meoli Companies, visit http://www.meolicompanies.com.
Selbyville Town Council passed an amendment allowing them to consider community designs that don’t follow Town Code to the letter.
If a developer can prove that relaxing the Planning & Zoning code is in Selbyville’s best interest, the Town Council can now flex the rules.
The Residential Planned Community District was created in 2012 to “provide more flexibility without increasing density,” Town Administrator Bob Dickerson has said. “The intent … is to provide a better plan for our community.”
That might include multifamily homes, curvaceous roads and varying lot sizes.
However, “some of the regulations for the new RPC District are being put to use for the first time and … the level of flexibility that [council] hoped to have in the plan approval process is not as clearly stated as they would like,” reads the prelude to the amendment.
The design criteria, standards and dimensional requirements must follow the code, “except that the Planning Commission may relax … any of these requirements where the developer can demonstrate that such action is and
consistent with the objectives of this ordinance and the comprehensive plan.” Town Council still makes the final decision.
The amendment did not mention the Board of Adjustment.
Jay Murray abstained from the otherwise unanimous vote.
In particular, the adjusted RPC approval process (Town Code Chapter 200, Article VI, section 200-36, subparagraph D) paves the way for Lighthouse Lakes to play with its design standards on Route 54.
In December of 2013, Town Council gave preliminary design approval to for a 140-acre planned community with 304 units, including 204 single-family homes and 50 townhouses.
However, developer Bunting Construction wants to request flexibility in the setbacks.
“The whole idea of the RPC was to allow more design,” said Coleman Bunting, who originally helped develop the RPC code.
Lighthouse Lakes planned a few rows of duplexes. Bunting said the Town considered them to be townhomes. Townhomes require a 100-foot setback from the road. Single-family homes only need 25 feet.
Although these duplexes have two families in one building, the company considers them to be full-sized single-family homes, said Tyler Malone of NVR, which sells Ryan Homes. So they’ll be requesting a smaller setback.
Each unit is 40 feet wide and around 55 feet deep. Two housing units are stuck together with two-car garages on each side. Each driveway holds an additional two cars.
This affects two streets of duplexes. It’s more important that the builders maintain a buffer along the property line, anyway, Bunting said.
The population density would remain unchanged. The number of houses would remain unchanged.
“It doesn’t change anything but the aesthetics of it,” Mayor Clifton Murray said.
This setback has not been approved, but it could meet the overall intent of the RPC code. The new amendment could allow for that.
Selling will begin in a few months, with a base price of $275,000 for duplexes and $300,000 for single-family structures.
“I think we’re going to do very well there,” Malone said. “It’s a beautiful community. It’s shaping up.”
In other Selbyville Town Council news:
Town Council election is March 7. Candidates may file until Feb. 4, and voters may register until Feb. 16 at 4:30 p.m. at Town Hall. Two council positions, plus the mayoral chair, are up for election.
• Representing Mountaire, Jay Griffith reported that the company’s wellness center should be completed by Feb. 1, with a move-in by early March.
The poultry company also helped donate 40,000 meals in Sussex County and parts of Kent County, plus another 6,400 before Christmas.
Receiving a few concerns about the factory’s odors, Griffith said he planned to walk around town that night to research the odor.
• The police department recently purchased a new Ford Explorer to replace an outgoing Dodge Charger. The change in make and model stems from Ford’s offering the police department’s color, saving SPD about $4,000 in paint jobs, said Chief W. Scott Collins. With help from Sussex County Council funding, SPD replaces each of six cars on a six-year rotation.
• The Town recently revoked the business license of Andrew Principe (owner of site maintenance company SMI Services), for storing concrete debris illegally on Railroad Avenue. This month, Dickerson reported that Principe will pay a substantial fine and a bond to clean up the concrete. Attorneys are drawing up the final documents.
Although concrete storage wasn’t a legal use to start, the proper legal process was slow to rectify the situation, Jay Murray noted.
• After years of having “one-and-a-half good producing wells,” Councilmember Rick Duncan said Selbyville now has five.
The new well is still producing “good, clean drinking water,” reported Duncan, who looks forward to seeing how much money Selbyville saves on chemical treatment.
Town water should further improve more as design continues on a filtration system to address gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). The project should go to bid in a few more months.
• Dawn Lekites thanked the town and residents for another successful coat drive for veterans.
• Any group hoping to use public parkland for an event should contact Town Hall.
The topic arose as River Wesleyan Church is planning an Easter Egg hunt, for which Megan Bunting hopes to partner with other organizations, like churches or Selbyville Public Library.
• The next regular Town Council meeting is Monday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m.
The Town of Frankford will hold its annual election on Feb. 7, with voters to fill two seats, currently held by Council President Joanne Bacon and Secretary/Treasurer Cheryl Workman.
Incumbents Bacon and Workman filed to serve again, as did residents Dorsey Dear, Sr. and Velicia Melson.
The election will be held between 1 and 4 p.m. on Feb. 7, at town hall. Those who go to cast their vote in February must remember to take with them a proof of identification and address, such as a current State of Delaware driver’s license or ID card and a current utility bill, bank statement, credit card statement, a paycheck or another type of bill or statement.
Those elected will serve a two-year term on council. At the Town’s March 2 meeting, the council will reorganize and select council members’ positions.
At the Town’s January meeting, Town Administrator Terry Truitt said that 48 residents had registered to vote in the election. Voter registration closed on Dec. 31.
Residents Greg Welch and Elizabeth Carpenter asked council why absentee voting was not an option for Frankford residents.
Bacon said she had posed the question to the Town’s solicitor Dennis Schrader in an email, who responded that the Town’s Charter was amended by the General Assembly in 2012, to read, “The conduct of absentee voting shall be governed by the State of Delaware.”
He added that Delaware Code Title 15 § 7571 reads, “‘Any person qualified under the provisions of a municipal charter to vote by absentee ballot in any municipal election held in that municipality may vote by absentee ballot for any reason authorized by that municipality’s charter or ordinances.’
“Prior to that amendment there was no absentee balloting provided for in the Frankford Charter, and that remains true today,” and as the Town’s Charter had previously not provided a provision for absentee ballots, absentee voting is not available in the Town currently. Schrader was not in attendance at the Monday meeting.
“I will say it is not definitely laid out that it is allowed,” said resident Gerry Smith.
Council said they had no problem with absentee balloting, but would like to make sure in doing so, that the Town was following the law.
“I think a lot of our residents don’t work normal 9-5, Monday through Friday jobs. We’re middle-class Americans working every hour that we can to make ends meet. I think you’re going to cut off a large portion of the population from voting if you don’t have absentee voting,” added Carpenter.
Earlier this week, Schrader told the Coastal Point that he had approached the Department of Elections and its legal representation in early December for their input, and has yet to receive a response.
At Monday’s meeting, Carpenter also asked how Dec. 31 was chosen as the voter registration cutoff date. Carpenter said she was concerned that the dates chosen are arbitrary, and asked council to extend voter registration to Jan. 16.
In the Town’s Charter, published on the State of Delaware’s website, it reads “Every person who is a citizen of the United States; is at least eighteen (18) years of age; has resided within the corporate limits of the Town for at least thirty (30) days prior to the next Town election; and is registered as required by law, shall be a qualified voter of the Town. Every qualified voter of the Town shall be entitled to vote in any or all Town elections.”
Welch said that he agreed with Carpenter and quoted State Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove’s Jan. 2014 opinion regarding his eligibility to run in the Town’s February 2014 election.
“’I am troubled by Frankford’s view that its charter requires persons to register 30 before the election. It is possible that persons who wished to vote or run as a candidate relied on this incorrect deadline and so were prejudiced. Moreover, this incorrect deadline may have created a barrier to voting,’” read Welch, noting the Town cutoff voter registration 37 days prior to the election. “…I urge Frankford to cease enforcing a 30 day registration requirement and adopt a deadline for voter registration that maximizes the opportunity to register to vote while giving Frankford the time it needs to properly administer its election.’
“These illegal cutoff dates didn’t allow me to vote or run last year,” Welch added.
In her Jan. 2014 decision, however, Manlove wrote that Welch had “made no attempt to register to vote in the Frankford election,” and that he was even given the opportunity to register during the hearing.
“Ms. Truitt invited Mr. Welch to register immediately upon the close of the hearing, although that registration would not be effective in the February 1 election, and handed him registrations forms for both Mr. Welch and his wife. Mr. Welch did not fill out a registration form before leaving my office.”
Carpenter asked that with a large Hispanic population residing in town, if any of the Town correspondence or notifications were available in Spanish.
“With our population of nonspeaking residents, how do we include them in our election?”
Resident Dean Esham asked if there should be a translator at the Town’s election.
Bacon said she would speak to the State’s Board of Election for their input.
Carpenter asked if it would be appropriate to delay the Town’s election. Welch added that the election hours should be extended as well.
The Town’s election, set out by the Town’s Charter, states that the Town’s election shall be held on the first Saturday in February. The date of the election cannot be altered without a Charter change.
Schrader told Coastal Point earlier this week that voter registration can be difficult as the Town follows laws governed by the state regarding municipal elections, which can be complicated due to the holiday season.
“State law works from the election date backwards. It says you have to do certain things 20 days, 30 days, 40 days, beforehand, depending upon what the topic is,” he explained. “Sometimes those days fall on weekends or legal holidays. That’s what makes it complicated.”
He noted that the advertising of voter registration, solicitation for candidates, and election notice were sent for the Department of Elections, where they were reviewed and approved.
Schrader said he would recommend a Charter change, to move the Town’s municipal election as to give residents the opportunity to register and participate in the elections, without the holiday conflict.
“It’s a difficult time to get things like registration done,” he said. “I would love to see them have them move the election date to the first Saturday of March.”
The Town’s election will be held on Feb. 7, between 1 and 4 p.m. at town hall. Frankford Town Hall is located at 5 Main Street, and may be reached by calling (302) 732-9424.
Secretary Shailen Bhatt will leave his post at Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) to take the same position within Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
He departs in late January after three-and-a-half years of managing a nearly-$1 billion-dollar budget and 2,800 employees.
“Shailen has done an excellent job enhancing the State’s transportation network while earning the respect of his colleagues and the trust of our citizens,” wrote Gov. Jack Markell. “The agency faced numerous challenges over the past several years, including the need to address a significant debt load and respond to severe weather events, but under his leadership DelDOT tackled those challenges with dedication and professionalism.”
“Leading one of Delaware’s biggest departments is often a thankless job and is rife with many sleepless nights,” wrote U.S. Sen. Chris Coons. “Shailen served those three-plus years with a positive attitude, attention to detail for the job at hand and a passion for the people of DelDOT.”
Bhatt first arrived in mid-2011, after the previous secretary resigned in the wake of a review and report issued by Markell’s office on DelDOT’s management of the Route 113 North/South project.
His tenure would begin with demands of great accountability and financial scrutiny.
“Shailen brought leadership to DelDOT at a critical time and improved the public’s faith in DelDOT to be a good steward of taxpayer money,” Coons stated.
He previously served as associate administrator at the Federal Highway Administration in Washington, D.C., deputy executive director with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and director of the Bowling Green/Warren County Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“Throughout my career I’ve tried to go where I felt I could do the most good, looking for opportunities to make meaningful contributions as a public servant,” Bhatt stated. “I appreciate the opportunity Governor Markell gave me and I will always treasure the time I’ve spent in Delaware. It’s been an honor to lead Team DelDOT. I’m very proud of the people I served with and appreciate their unwavering support and enthusiastic commitment towards improving Delaware’s transportation system.”
As the ninth Secretary, Bhatt personally saw completion projects statewide, from the new Indian River Inlet Bridge to the new I-95 interchanges with Routes 1 and 202.
That includes the emergency closure and realignment of an I-495 bridge, when four of the 37 support columns were found to be tilting last summer.
“After the country saw how Shailen and DelDOT skillfully handled the 495 crisis, I knew it was a matter of time before Shailen was offered greater opportunities,” said Coons.
To improve DelDOT’s wavering financial status, he led the reduction in borrowing and operating costs and increased a sustainable source of revenue.
Under Bhatt’s leadership, DelDOT accomplished other goals: a public transit redesign; new self-service kiosks at the DMV; stronger customer service and feedback; improved cycling networks; a data-driven system to prioritize road projects; and creating Transportation Improvement Districts (TIDs) to help communities work with local land use departments and DelDOT to determine the appropriate size of transportation improvements in identified growth zones.
“While this is a big loss for the State of Delaware, I am happy he’ll have the opportunity to work with one of the best governors in the country,” Markell wrote, “and am confident Shailen’s experience and leadership skills will have a positive impact in Colorado.”
“Shailen not only brings incredible transportation experience to CDOT, he is a known consensus builder who can continue to build the alliances and the transportation system Colorado needs to support our state’s economy and people’s lives,” stated Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. ”His experience in disaster recovery, transportation planning and innovative project delivery will help build on the successes that Don Hunt has led to improve safety and congestion on our roadways.”
CDOT’s outgoing executive director, Hunt, had similar challenges as Bhatt, ultimately improving customer service, efficiency and finances. Hunt now returns to his project development and advisory firm, The Antero Company.
Colorado’s challenges are a new challenge for Bhatt, who will oversee 3,300 employees statewide and an annual budget of approximately $1.2 billion. CDOT maintains, repairs and plows over 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,437 bridges while keeping over 35 mountain passes open year-round.
“Colorado clearly has a dynamic transportation department and a set of transportation challenges that I look forward to tackling,” Bhatt wrote.
Filling the shoes
The next nominee has over 25 years of public service, climbing the ranks to her current position as director of the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). With Markell’s nomination, Jennifer Cohan must be confirmed by Delaware State Senate, which convenes for the new session on Jan. 13.
“She has worked her way up through the ranks of state government, starting as a casual/seasonal front-line worker to director of DMV, gaining extensive knowledge and experience that will make her an ideal candidate to serve as the state’s transportation Secretary,” Markell wrote.
Before her 2007 appointment as DMV Director, she led DelDOT in many areas, including planning, finance and motor carrier safety. Previously, she managed the state’s Clean Water Program at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). Cohan has also worked with the Delaware State Legislature within the Office of the Controller General.
“Jennifer’s proven leadership skills have played an integral role in the transformation of the [DelDOT] over the past eight years, particularly as it relates to improved services and supports within the Division of Motor Vehicles,” said Markell.
“Deeply honored” to be nominated, Cohan wrote, “If confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to building on the incredible progress we’ve made to improve the state’s transportation network while strengthening the public’s trust.
“This administration has made significant investments in transportation, and the dedicated employees of DelDOT play a critical role in ensuring those investments equate to positive changes for the people of Delaware. I’m proud of our team and would be honored to support their ongoing efforts if given the opportunity to serve.”
Besides her DMV work, Cohan stays busy as an adjunct professor at Wilmington University; member of American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) International Board of Directors; and board president of the Greater Dover Boys and Girls Club.
The State of Delaware reports that Cohan, 42, graduated summa cum laude from Wilmington University with a Bachelor of Science in business management and a Master of Science in public administration. She currently resides in Dover with her husband and daughter.
Rusty Hesse, a member of the advisory committee of the Bethany Area Repertory Theatre (BART) and Bob Davis founder of BART and local playwright, recently presented seven DVDs to Susan Keefe, director of the South Coastal Library. The DVD’s are of plays written by Davis and presented at Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville and other locations in the Delmarva area.
BART is a non-profit theater group presenting live theater at the Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville during the winter months, featuring area actors and musicians. For more information about BART, look on Facebook for upcoming events. To become a member of the company or help by becoming a donating member contact either Hesse at (302) 539-7324 or Davis at (302) 245-1802.