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- 01/29/15--12:10: _Fenwick sets Feb. 3...
- 01/29/15--12:13: _Lone Frankford poli...
- 01/29/15--12:15: _South Bethany getti...
- 01/29/15--12:19: _Frankford election ...
- 01/29/15--12:20: _School board approv...
- 02/05/15--10:25: _Barbershop chorus s...
- 02/05/15--10:26: _Lincoln to come to ...
- 02/05/15--10:35: _Bethany Beach Books...
- 02/05/15--10:40: _State parks’ new us...
- 02/05/15--11:01: _Coastal Athlete joi...
- 02/05/15--11:09: _Frankford to advert...
- 02/05/15--11:14: _Corps opens public ...
- 02/05/15--11:25: _DSP investigating i...
- 02/05/15--11:27: _OVPD offers Narcan ...
- 02/05/15--13:35: _Citizenship questio...
- 02/05/15--13:37: _Citizens appeal Fra...
- 02/05/15--13:38: _Frankford voters to...
- 02/12/15--12:00: _Subzero-cold mornin...
- 02/12/15--12:41: _Clear Space recogni...
- 02/12/15--12:48: _Village Square Acad...
- 01/29/15--12:10: Fenwick sets Feb. 3 workshop on freeboard, building height
- 01/29/15--12:13: Lone Frankford police officer tenders resignation to Town
- 01/29/15--12:15: South Bethany getting true 24-hour police coverage
- 01/29/15--12:19: Frankford election board to hear citizens’ complaints
- 01/29/15--12:20: School board approves sex-ed curriculum
- 02/05/15--10:25: Barbershop chorus set to deliver Singing Valentines
- 02/05/15--10:26: Lincoln to come to life in Ocean View
- 02/05/15--10:35: Bethany Beach Books ready to drop new reads on customers’ doorsteps
- 02/05/15--10:40: State parks’ new user fees to go into effect Feb. 15
- 02/05/15--11:01: Coastal Athlete joins area fitness scene
- 02/05/15--11:09: Frankford to advertise for new police officers
- 02/05/15--11:14: Corps opens public comments for Delaware aquaculture
- 02/05/15--11:25: DSP investigating infant death at Long Neck daycare
- 02/05/15--11:27: OVPD offers Narcan training, heroin education
- 02/05/15--13:35: Citizenship question, letter another concern in Frankford election
- 02/05/15--13:37: Citizens appeal Frankford election rulings
- 02/05/15--13:38: Frankford voters to select two council members
- 02/12/15--12:00: Subzero-cold mornings coming; Code Purple locations opening
- 02/12/15--12:41: Clear Space recognized by Broadway World Awards
Fenwick Island officials will hold a workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 2 p.m. at town hall, to get input from the public on the proposed Chapter 88 flood-damage reduction ordinance that council members have been wrestling with for months.
The core of the ordinance has already been adopted, with a 6-0 vote at the council’s Jan. 22 meeting, but divisions over the issue of “freeboard” — requiring or incentivizing property owners to build the lowest level of their homes above a certain height — have repeatedly pushed back adoption of the ordinance to a point perilously close to the March 15 deadline for the town to retain its eligibility for the National Flood Insurance Program.
Council members expressed reluctance to approve the ordinance last Friday, citing a desire to get the entire subject resolved — including the controversial element of freeboarding, whose most ardent supporters initially planned to vote against adopting the ordinance as written.
“I do believe in global warming and sea-level rise. I think, 100 years from now, you’ll see a polar bear only in a controlled environment,” prefaced Councilman Todd Smallwood. “I do believe in freeboard,” he continued, saying he felt that 2 feet of freeboarding should be mandatory in the town, which saw significant flooding from the bay side during Hurricane Sandy. “I will vote no, because it doesn’t go far enough.”
Smallwood said that, supporting the 2 feet of mandatory freeboard, he didn’t think it was fair not to then allow any new construction in the town to have an additional 2 feet of building height, above the existing 32-foot height limit in the town.
Further, he said, “If we allow an additional 2 feet in height, we need to indicate where that is measured from.” The Town currently bases building height measurements from the height of the road fronting the property, while some other towns have based their measurements on base flood elevation or allowed a choice between the two.
“I don’t want to pass this now and look at it again in a few months,” Smallwood said. “If we don’t do it, we will do a disservice to people building in the future, jamming them into the 32-foot height.”
Building height has been and remains a controversial issue in the town and other Delaware beach towns, as properties have been built taller over the years, causing concerns about such things as blocked views, reduced air circulation and light penetration for neighbors with smaller homes.
So, while the core of the flood-prevention ordinance was to meet FEMA requirements by adopting new flood hazard maps, designating a floodplain administrator, defining administrative procedures and creating criteria for developing in the flood-hazard area of the town, the issue of freeboarding has made the process of adopting it a slow one.
Freeboard details remain controversial, even among supporters
Councilman Bill Westling Jr., in introducing the second reading of the ordinance last Friday, explained that it included the 2-foot mandatory freeboard — approved by the council on first reading — as well as a version of the model flood-prevention ordinance from FEMA that has been approved by State officials.
In regard to the latter, he noted that, in the past, all references to base-flood elevation were related to the first floor of a structure. With the new ordinance, the reference is instead to the lowest level of ductwork.
On the issue of freeboarding, Weistling said he was in favor of it but that he preferred, for now, to adopt the ordinance without it.
“People oppose the height restriction, and some want a modest height but want more information about freeboarding and the criteria to be used if it is mandatory,” he acknowledged. “I don’t like to keep saying this, but January is not a good time to do this, with the amount of interest expressed,” he added of the controversy.
Councilman Gardner Bunting said he believed the council should adopt the ordinance with 2 feet of mandatory freeboard.
He noted that it would not be alone in such a step, as South Bethany had adopted a 2-foot voluntary freeboard, with a provision for up to 2 additional feet of height for the structure if freeboarding is used; Ocean View had adopted a mandatory 2-foot freeboard; Millville had adopted a mandatory 1-foot freeboard; Dewey Beach had adopted a 1-foot freeboard with additional requirements; Lewes had adopted a mandatory 18-inch freeboard; and Sussex County had adopted a voluntary 2-foot freeboard with an allowance for up to 2 feet of additional height.
Councilman Euene Langan said he felt it was the council’s responsibility to pass the ordinance, “given what’s going on with sea-level rise.” Langan earlier in the meeting had asked engineer Kyle Gulbronson of URS what the latest data about sea-level rise indicated, after Gulbronson reported on the nearly completed Town sea-level vulnerability study. Gulbronson had confirmed that the threat wasn’t improving.
“He just told you it’s not changing. Sea level is rising, whether you believe in the science or not,” Langan emphasized. “It’s our shared responsibility to help our residents protect their homes.”
Mayor Audrey Serio said she agreed with Smallwood’s position in support of mandatory freeboarding.
“Anyone who went through Sandy and doesn’t believe we need 24 inches of freeboard is crazy,” Serio said. “We had water 30 inches high coming through houses. We have to let people be able to do this, so that when a storm comes through they are high enough.”
Serio emphasized that the problem faced by the council was related to the date by which the ordinance had to be adopted. “I don’t think anybody sitting up here,” she said of the council table, “really disagrees with that chapter, or really disagrees with freeboard. Everybody knows it’s a necessary thing.”
She said she felt the council had “gotten themselves into a corner,” with pressure to adopt the ordinance in time to avoid losing NFIP protection, but “I also know two people up here seriously don’t want to pass it without having the height issue addressed. … This is not something that can lag on forever,” she added. “We’re in agreement, so I hate to see anything voted down.”
Councilwoman Diane Tingle was that second voice of opposition to adopting the ordinance as drafted, agreeing with Smallwood that a 2-foot freeboard should be mandatory in the town but also that she could not vote for approval without having the building height-related issues resolved.
Deadline leads to debate on proper process for adoption
Weistling said he felt the currently proposed ordinance wouldn’t pass on its second reading for that reason, which would force the Town to start the adoption process over again with a first reading, which could push the adoption back past the mandatory adoption date of March 15. He suggested a stop-gap measure of amending the ordinance to eliminate the freeboarding concept and adopt the basic elements required by FEMA.
Alternatively, Serio suggested the council table the second reading of the ordinance altogether and take it back up at the council’s February meeting, thus avoiding having to start over with another first reading.
“We can meet and meet and meet until we come up with the measuring point,” she suggested, noting that that measurement is defined in the Town’s zoning code, rather than a federal or state document.
Weistling said that doing so would mean a first reading of the zoning change would have to be held at that same February council meeting. “If we adopt freeboarding, that automatically gets us into issues involving height.”
“I don’t want to see us getting into the situation we were in several years ago,” Smallwood said of having a series of presentations made “and getting nothing done.”
Serio said she wanted to address both the core ordinance and freeboarding at the same time — a later time than Jan. 22. “People will have more understanding as to why these things have to be done,” she explained.
Council members and Town staff debated the potential timeline for adopting a revised ordinance, with a variety of permutations, all of which were constrained by the March 15 deadline and requirements for time to pass between meetings and for advertising them.
Langan suggested they remove the freeboarding provision from the ordinance and adopt it, “so we’re not up against the wall at the last minute. We can take care of the other issue at the next meeting.”
But Weistling said he had been told by the town solicitor that removing freeboarding would require a new first reading, because it would substantially change the ordinance, but that his understanding had been that if the council changed an ordinance in a way that made it less restrictive than previously proposed, it could be voted upon without a new first reading.
Town Manager Merritt Burke told the council that, if they agreed that it was not a substantive change and was less restrictive, it could be a second reading.
The council then agreed to drop the freeboarding provision from the ordinance on its second reading and to deal with the issue separately, “with the understanding that we will set up a meeting as soon as the vote is taken and start work” on the freeboarding and related height issues,” Serio emphasized.
The revised ordinance, adopting the core ordinance and new FEMA maps, was approved by a 6-0 vote, with Langing voicing a reluctant “yes.”
The council immediately set a public workshop to discuss Chapter 160, as pertains to building height and freeboard, for Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 2 p.m. at town hall.
Misleading information, public awareness discussed
Resident Lynn Andrews told the council last Friday that she hoped to see more public participation in the process. “When you’re doing anything about changing height in this town, you have to have more public participation. The residents have to be notified you’re even thinking about it.”
Serio replied that the issue wasn’t a change in height so much as a change in the way the height of a home is measured.
“This is going to change the height of the buildings — not all of them, but the ones who will be affected will be really, really upset,” Andrews said. “You have to educate the public about what freeboarding means, what it means for the height. It is gospel in this town that our buildings stay small.”
“The word I’ve been hearing from everyone is that anything that happens to the height is going to immediately devalue the properties in the town,” Smallwood said.
“Not everybody agrees,” Serio replied.
Resident Phil Craig said the change to incorporate freeboarding is a necessary one.
“This is no longer a little fishing village or retirement community. Nobody would want to give back the value added to their homes,” he said of the appreciation of property values over recent decades. “I don’t understand why you don’t want to give the next generation the safety and freedom from water incursion into the basement.”
Craig said information published in the newsletter of the Fenwick Island Society of Homeowners (FISH) had been incorrect in that it said some other local towns hadn’t yet taken action on the FEMA ordinance requirements.
“Why do we have to be last at every one of these things? Why do we have to follow someone else’s proactive approach? This should have been done a long time ago. You have known about this for years. The house on the ocean has a ridge 10 feet higher than the guy on the bay,” who he said had more danger posed to his property. “The issue really boils down to fairness. It’s not about people wanting a taller house. On the ocean side, you never have water incursion.”
Weistling said the issue in the 1970s had been damage to ocean-side homes from breaches in the dunes, but that the threat was now to the bay side.
“The whole key to the thing is safety,” Serio added. “We have to think about the people coming here, not us. My job sitting right here is to make sure any decision we make we’re making for the safety of those within the town, not because the roofs are going to be higher or lower.
“They’re that way now. You look at three houses on the same street built in different years. They’re different heights, as they should be. You should be able to build the way you want, but the houses should be able to be built safely.”
Weistling also expressed his dismay at the FISH newsletter, which he said had also suggested that the Town hadn’t done a good enough job of getting the word out about the meetings on the issue, even though they were set at prior council meetings, with FISH officers in attendance.
Resident Vicki Carmean replied that it was hard for people to keep abreast of the issue during the winter and that there had been a need for more time before adopting the ordinance for people to get information and clarification.
“We didn’t set those dates. It was sent to us with the date it had to be back in,” Serio emphasized. “We’ve had more workshops in the last few months than any time in the last few years,” she added, noting that experts on the issues, as well as State and County officials and Gulbronson, had all participated. “I don’t know what else we can do. If they had given us until Sept. 15, that would be different.”
Building Inspector Patricia Schuchman noted that the Town had been invited two years ago to look at the preliminary FEMA maps but that inaccuracies had been found in the maps, leading to the Town only having the finalized maps to work from for about a year. Burke said the maps had been posted for the public to review but noted that Schuchman had been out for several months, which delayed things, as she was the lead person for the issue.
“We didn’t intentionally make it go slow,” Serio added.
One resident at the Jan. 22 meeting acknowledged that he hadn’t heard of freeboarding until November and hadn’t realized then the impact it would have, including on the height limit. He said he thought people knew about the FEMA maps but didn’t understand it would involve freeboarding and impacts on building height, but that he hoped the process dealing with those issues would go slow and that citizens would be kept informed.
The Frankford Police Department’s single remaining police officer, Nate Hudson, submitted his letter of resignation to the Town earlier this week.
“He has put his letter of resignation in, yes,” confirmed Councilwoman Cheryl Workman.
Hudson, who joined the department in April of 2011, had remained the only active officer following the December 2014 retirement of Chief William Dudley.
Last month, the Town formed a police committee to look for Dudley’s replacement.
Workman said that the Town would be advertising for someone to fill Hudson’s position.
“It is very important for us to keep our residents in this town safe,” emphasized Workman. “We need police patrols in this town… We need our own town police.”
Councilman Charles Shelton, who formed the police committee at the Town’s January council meeting, declined to comment on Hudson’s departure but said it would be discussed at the town council’s Feb. 2 meeting.
By adding a new police officer position, South Bethany could get the true 24-hour police coverage many believe they already have. Residents broke into applause Monday afternoon after the town council narrowly voted to create a new full-time police position.
Despite popular sentiment for increased police coverage, the 4-3 vote was close because some councilmembers didn’t feel they had enough information.
“There has been no increase in staffing since 1993 — in 22 years — despite our changing town,” said Chief Troy Crowson at the Jan. 26 meeting.
“The Town of South Bethany would benefit from an additional fulltime officer slot,” he said. “It coincides with what [previous] Chief Deloach wanted but was reluctant to do because of cost.”
South Bethany currently has five officers, as well as the chief, with one of those officer positions currently vacant. After voting to create the new position, the town council also voted to make offers of employment to two candidates: one certified Delaware officer and one police academy recruit.
With the two new hires, South Bethany would have six road officers and the chief.
“We want to maintain a 24-hour department seamlessly,” Crowson said, noting that there are currently periodic gaps in service. South Bethany calls neighboring towns for assistance at those times. Despite hiring part-timers or paying overtime, the SBPD can be shorthanded when someone calls out sick. An officer dealing with an arrest or paperwork may have to stop coverage of the beach or Route 1 for four hours.
With an additional officer, South Bethany police could have two-man shifts, which provides safety and backup for the officers (which also increases morale, Crowson emphasized). It also ensures supervision for less-experienced officers.
“It’s been like this a long time,” said Councilman Al Rae, “and have we had problems?”
“Yes,” Crowson said. “The big incident with a party that had that politician involved — we didn’t have a response to that. … Bethany came and responded to it for us.”
That would, in fact, have been Crowson’s shift, in June of 2013, but he was in the hospital when those calls came in.
Just this past weekend, South Bethany incurred overtime because of a family emergency that called one officer away and necessitated another coming back in, on top of a full work week.
Officers will also spend more time in training and workshops this year.
Vacation time has been rejected “a lot, as a result of someone already being off,” Crowson said. That reduces morale.
With two people per shift, the Town’s all-terrain vehicle could patrol more along the upcoming Assawoman Canal Trail or the beach, reducing lifeguards’ responsibility for policing, because someone would still be on the road with a regular car.
“I would feel a lot better if we had something … that shows the past five years, that was fully loaded with these events and costs, so we could use that to look to the future,” Rae said.
Crowson had an eight-year projection for costs with regularly scheduled promotions, but he said he hesitated to distribute it during a public session because employee names were attached.
Debating the price tag
The SBPD is already saving money, since its two highest-paid officers retired in 2014, their salaries together coming to $155,945. In contrast, a promotion and two recent hires (including the additional patrolman) would cost the Town $89,280.
Adding an academy recruit to the staff would cost $31,686, minus the $5,989 in projected part-time and overtime pay if the position weren’t added. Crowson could also apply a $10,000 Sussex County grant to the hire.
Even with an additional officer, Crowson estimated that the $382,602 Public Safety expense budget will plummet by almost $40,000 next year and not return to $380,539 for three years.
“We’re providing services at a 1993 staffing level. This is not going to go away for us. We’re going to get busy,” Crowson said.
Rae and fellow Councilman Tim Saxton said they still wanted more details and investigation.
“I’m not saying I’m not for it. … I just feel like we’re rushing into this a little bit,” said Rae, expressing concern about future tax increases. “I would like the budget committee, with their expertise, to look at it. … It seems to me this is the kind of thing is what the budget committee is for.”
“No disrespect anywhere,” Saxton said. “There is a lot of financial information that’s not included,” he said, referencing employee benefits and training. “I don’t want the public misled that it’s just additional salary that is contributing to the cost of your department.”
“I’m not saying I’m against this. I’m saying I haven’t seen this,” Saxton added.
Crowson admitted that he is no accountant but emphasized that he had been asked to investigate how South Bethany could provide “better and more efficient police service.”
Councilwoman Sue Callaway said she had thought that South Bethany had 24-hour coverage, and she deferred to Crowson’s assessment.
“When you were hired … you were charged with many objectives, which you have taken a very good look at. One of the things was to look at the department and tell how we can do better,” she said. “I think, with 27 years of experience on the department, you know what’s best for South Bethany.”
“I think Troy has shown us how we can get a lot closer to 24-hour coverage,” said Councilman George Junkin. “We lost some high-paid people. We can add one additional lower-paid person and bring it up to six working people … and still not exceed what we spent in 2014.”
In the future, South Bethany could get the additional revenue it needs to continue with six police officers. It may raise taxes, cut the budget or choose not to refill a future vacancy.
The issue of hiring a sixth officer arose when the police hiring committee found an excellent candidate who still needed to attend the academy. They had to bypass her for an officer with more experience. But the time seemed ripe to investigate an additional position that she could fill, said Mayor Pat Voveris.
The public approves
“This reminds me of a meeting I attended many years ago, when this town was formed,” said resident Bryant Hopkins. The public safety committee was debating whether to use a federal grant to hire an amateur officer.
“The guy that they were talking about was Joe Deloach,” who recently retired as police chief after 35 years of service to the Town. “If you want 24/7, you’re going to pay for it.”
“What is the price of safety? I’ve only been here 10 years, and I’ve seen this town boom!” said resident Jerry Masiello. “Better to look at a future contingency than look back and say, ‘Maybe if we had hired someone, that guy wouldn’t have been killed.’”
“People are coming into South Bethany. They want more. Bigger houses, more police protection,” said resident Dick Oliver. “I want better police protection.”
About 500 people reside in South Bethany in the winter. The town has 1,200 homes.
Carol Stevenson said the South Bethany Property Owners Association “would be surprised” to learn that they don’t already have 24-hour coverage.
“I’m for it, regardless; but I’d like to know how it impacts the budget,” said resident Jack Whitney.
At least four residents said they agreed with creating a new position, citing everything from the growth trends of Sussex County to their trust in Crowson’s opinion.
The final vote
The council eventually voted to create the new police position. Callaway, Junkin, Saxton and Mayor Pat Voveris voted in favor. Rae and Councilmen Tony Caputo and Jim Gross voted against the measure. The opponents all said they wanted more analysis of the numbers.
“I feel like this has been rushed,” said Rae, asking for more in-depth discussion. “What are our objectives for the police department? What are we trying to do other than add another person to patrol Route 1?”
“Keep us safe!” one resident called out.
Saxton’s vote was a reluctant yes.
“I think the argument for 24-hour coverage is there,” he said, adding that he wished it had been studied in the budgetary process. “I’m afraid I’m missing things. I don’t feel my questions were fully answered. From a financial perspective, can we do it? Probably. I don’t believe those numbers [presented] will hold.”
After 30 years in law enforcement, in small towns and abroad, resident Masiello said he was happy with the vote but that he felt council members didn’t fully understand the grave importance of having backup officers.
“I’ve been through too many life-threatening situations to talk money,” he said after the meeting. “It’s police officers lives. It’s residents’ lives, renters’ lives. How can you put a price on that?”
The council on Jan. 26 also voted to specifically hire the two officers recommended by Crowson. The candidates were given conditional offers of employment, based on passing their final physicals and psychological evaluations.
“One is a sworn Delaware-certified officer from another agency,” said Cpl. Patrick Wiley. “The other is a new recruit we’ll put through academy,” a six-month training program that begins in March.
The Frankford Board of Elections (BOE) will hold a hearing this week to review two citizens’ complaints regarding the Town’s upcoming municipal election.
On Friday, Jan. 30, at 1 p.m. at the Frankford Public Library, a special hearing will take place before board members Pam Hoban, Elma Gray and Peggy Schaffer.
In a four-page complaint, dated Jan. 15, Frankford resident Greg Welch stated that there are several issues that are “denying our community a fair election,” many of which he believes were created with the Town’s 2012 Charter change.
“The 2012 Charter amendment made it a requirement to be a registered qualified voter of the Town to be a council member. Prior to this amendment, neither the Town or State had that requirement. The 2012 Charter amendment discarded the established voter registration and candidacy filing deadlines without adopting or establishing current deadlines. The 2012 Charter amendment adopted the State’s procedure for absentee voting, as outlined in Delaware Title 15. The Town is not allowing absentee voting in this year’s election,” wrote Welch in his complaint.
“These conditions are denying our Town a fair 2015 election.”
The election is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 7, from 1 to 4 p.m. In his complaint, Welch stated that, with only a three-hour window for citizens to vote, the Town should allow for absentee voting.
Welch also opined that the Town’s “advertised voter registration deadline of Dec. 31, 2014, is not legally established and incorrect. Frankford’s election is on Feb. 7, 2015. This deadline is 37 days prior to the election.”
He went on to state that State Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove had echoed his concerns in her 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 days before the election. It is possible that a person who wished to vote or run as a candidate relied on this incorrect deadline and so were prejudiced. Moreover, this incorrect deadline might have created a barrier to voting, which is exactly the concern I expressed in my 2012 opinion…’” he quoted her as having stated in 2014.
“‘I urge Frankford to cease enforcing the 30-day registration requirement and adopt a deadline for voter registration that maximizes the opportunity to register to vote while giving Frankford the time to administer its election.’”
Welch also stated that he believes the candidacy deadline set for the 2015 election is incorrect and was illegally set.
“The 2012 Charter amendment discarded the deadline for filing for candidacy that was previously 10 days prior to the election. The State does not have an established candidacy filing deadline, and our Town did not establish one after discarding the previous charter’s deadline. Our town clerk set the candidacy filing deadline 31 days prior to the election without any legal procedure or authority,” he wrote.
Welch said that, in her 2014 decision, Manlove had stated that the deadline related to candidacy filing “flows directly” from Delaware Code Title 15 § 7553.
“Commissioner Manlove’s statement in her 2014 decision was incorrect. The mandatory notice requirements of Delaware Title 15 and FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] do not require a candidacy filing deadline of 31 days before the election in any municipality in Delaware, including Frankford,” he wrote in the complaint.
“For decades, the Charter’s established candidacy filing deadline, 10 days prior to the election, complied with Title 15, as well as FOIA, by simply advertising this date on the Town’s bulletin board and the post office’s bulletin board. We now also have a Town website that is available to meet these advertising deadlines. Commissioner Manlove’s decision ignored the fact that our town clerk does not have the authority to set these deadlines.”
Welch stated that the deadlines that had been previously established in the town charter had not been reestablished since the 2012 Charter amendment.
“A proper process would be to have our council discuss and set deadlines before the election. This did not happen. These dates are now being established by our clerk. The Town of Frankford is not using these deadlines to administer its election. They are being employed to deny citizens voter registration and candidacy.
“Our Town could easily allow voter registration up to one week before the election. They are stopping registration 38 days before the election,” he wrote. “These illegal deadlines were used in the 2014 election to deny me registration so I could not be a candidate in that year’s election.”
Welch also stated that the voter registration process has been misrepresented regarding his eligibility to vote in the municipality’s elections.
“For the past decade and a half, all parties involved agreed that I produced my driver’s license, my voter polling place card and filled out several Frankford voter application cards. Commissioner Manlove’s 2014 decisions statement, ‘Mr. Welch is not a qualified voter because he never registered to vote in Frankford elections,’ is incorrect,” he wrote.
“Documentation, in the form of receipts of voter registration, Town meeting minutes, complaints to the [Department of Justice], appeal hearings with the Delaware election commissioner, all show that all parties agree and are fully aware that I have produced my driver’s license, and polling place card, and filled out the town registration card several times.”
Welch stated that the Town and State have been spending thousands of dollars to “misrepresent and misuse these deadlines and processes to deny our Town [a] fair election.”
In addition to Welch’s complaint, a three-page complaint from resident Jerry Smith to Council President Joanne Bacon and Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader dated Jan. 20, stated that the “hours of the election are no longer delineated in the charter. The ‘Town Council’ has not decided and established what the hours of the election are to be — a requirement of the current charter. Frankford is attempting to use the hours established under the excised portion of the previous Charter.”
Smith also stated that the he could find nothing to establish the appointment of the Town’s Board of Elections, as laid out in Delaware Code Title 15 § 7551 (a), “A Board of Elections shall be appointed as provided in the municipality’s charter or code and shall oversee the election of the municipality’s government.”
Smith’s concerns were echoed by Welch in a Jan. 25 letter to Manlove and Sussex County Department of Elections Deputy Director Jean Turner.
“Another issue that has been created by the 2012 amendment is the Town discarded without replacing or reestablishing the process and provisions for establishing a Town Board of Elections. Delaware State Code Title 15 requires that our charter or code contain the process of appointing this board and the terms they will serve…” wrote Welch.
“Frankford is in violation of Title 15 chapter IV subchapter 7551 (a) (c) (j). Our current charter has no mention of a Board of Elections. There is no process provided for establishing this board. There are no terms set in the charter.”
Smith also wrote that the Town is out of compliance with Delaware Code Title 15 § 7551 (j), requiring the names and contact information of the Board to be posted in town hall and on the municipality’s website.
“It has not posted Board of Elections members and their contact information on its website or in the building where the municipal government meets. Perhaps, because it doesn’t have a Board of Election legally established. Frankford has not complied with the State law.”
In his Jan. 25 letter, Welch wrote that the BOE members were announced at the Dec. 8, 2014 council meeting.
“Under ‘New Business,’ the minutes state, ‘Pres. Joanne Bacon announced the standing members of the Election Board have been activated for the upcoming Town Election scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015.’
“The members were not named, and their terms were not defined. Our town council did not go through a process of choosing or vetting board members. President Bacon simply announced that the clerk activated the standing board.
“The Town currently has no legislation or genuine process that sanctions the existence of the Board of Elections,” he wrote. “This unsanctioned, unadvertised, illegal Board of Elections does not have the authority to oversee the scheduled hearing. The intentional use of this illegally constructed Election Board is being employed to deny our town a fair hearing and a fair election.”
Citing Delaware Code Title 15 § 7553 (f), Smith quoted, “‘The Department of Elections may reject any election notice that is filed late or that is materially incorrect. If such rejection results the violation of subsection (a) or (b) of this section, the municipality shall reschedule the election in accordance with this section.’
“The Notice of Election, Solicitation of Candidates and other election notices include times, dates and deadlines not set by the charter or State law which are materially incorrect since they were not decided by the Council as required but instead by an employee,” he argued.
Smith requested that the Town’s upcoming municipal election be rescheduled.
“For the reasons mentioned, not all-inclusive, I’m requesting the Town ask the Department of Elections to reject the notices and the municipality reschedule this election in accordance with (f) until corrections can be made, particularly since Frankford has a sordid history in some cases of not being in compliance with laws, rules and guidelines.”
The hearing is open to the public; however, public comment is not permitted. Unlike a council meeting or workshop, only the board and those who filed complaints may actively participate in the hearing.
According to Delaware Code Title 15 § 7552, ¬¬within 24 hours of the special public meeting, the BOE must issue a written decision on whether or not they find the complaint to have merit.
“Decisions and orders of a municipal Board of Elections may be appealed to the State Election Commissioner in writing within two business days of the Board’s decision and order. The State Election Commissioner shall take testimony at a special public hearing that the Commissioner conducts within four business days following receipt of the appeal.”
The Frankford Public Library is located at 8 Main Street in downtown Frankford.
For months, Indian River School District officials have plodded through the divisive topic of how to teach Human Sexuality to 600 ninth-graders each year. This week, the Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a new sex-ed curriculum for high school. (The middle school curriculum process has yet to begin.)
The people speak
After five in-depth meetings, the public was given a chance to comment at a Jan. 22 meeting that had been promised months ago after people wanting to offer their opinions on the issue began overflowing the public comments time of school board meetings.
At board meetings, every person given time to speak wanted a broader curriculum, with more than “just” abstinence-only lessons, as well as terms and definitions that included the homosexual, transsexual and/or asexual community.
Some comments were very bitter, and discussions were sometimes tense. Whatever the opinion, most people echoed a common idea: the teenagers’ welfare.
“I hope we get to a point when we can avoid judging each other’s morality based on our own sense of a moral upbringing. I hope we get to a point where we can respect one another’s feelings,” said the Rev. Michael Smith said. “We on both sides of the issues have well-meaning … morals. Just because they are [at odds] with one another, we should not judge.”
That being said, he noted that he approved of the curriculum.
“I’m thinking that I wish we had a curriculum like this back in the ’60s, before all this mess started,” Smith said.
Most teenagers and adults who offered an opinion praised the winning curriculum aloud for its all-inclusive approach, which they said they feel won’t alienate students of various sexualities.
The curriculum got approval from college nurses and educators, who said the sooner children and communities learn decision-making, the better.
“I think education is the key to helping young people take care of themselves, especially in terms of sexuality. I see problems at college and saw at the high-school level that we weren’t permitted to address,” said Peggy Gatti, a longtime nurse practitioner.
“Our kids are not going for abstinence,” said D.R. Gray, a longtime college educator. “I think it’s nice they perhaps make that choice, but in my experience, I don’t see that it’s happening. I think our job as educators is to correct misinformation.”
“Of course, if you talk to them, they know everything … but they don’t know, and they take with them misinformation,” Gray said. “We don’t want the mistakes to be children, do we? I mean children having children.”
Rose Mary Hendrix agreed.
“If they leave school with all the misinformation that the nurses were talking about, they don’t know what to do,” she said. “At least if they have the education, they’ll know what to do” she said of the time when they become adults. “I just think it’s important that high school students have all the information.”
Rebecca Polly graduated from Indian River High School five years ago. She said she hopes health programs like this will better inform students.
“I can’t remember what type of sex-ed we had when I was going through, and when we got to college, it was even worse,” she said of the misinformation among her classmates.
Sexuality is not just science, but a personal issue, said Don Peterson. He encouraged the school board to “listen to these young people who have stood before you bravely and poured out their hearts on how much this is important to them.”
Peterson observed every committee meeting. He called it a fair, but rocky, process.
“The review process was painstaking,” and the group discussed every issue that arose, he noted. “Not everyone got everything that they wanted, but that’s the nature of these kind of dialogues. I can’t imagine a more fair process.”
Peterson also addressed Board Member Shaun Fink, who recently said that his church was damaged and that he had received threats, due to his conservative opinions on the issue.
“You and I have not agreed on the issues. … Let me say that we stand with you in support of your right to speak freely without threat of violence. We condemn and deplore these actions,” Peterson said.
Cole Haden was the first person to speak about the proposed health curriculum in October. The Sussex Central High School senior has listened to every committee meeting since then.
“I really do support the curriculum. I think the compromises that were made were fair,” but that doesn’t mean Haden believes this is the end of the story.
He encouraged future students, board members and residents to “continue to work in a fashion similar to the way this issue was handled … in a way that will do justice and be fair [for all students].”
Some of those who opposed the curriculum did not like its mention of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. One woman was so upset that she gave up her public comments time.
Lou Ann Riley asked about the spin educators might place on the curriculum.
“What is the world view of the publisher that published the materials … and the teachers in the classroom? Because those teachers are going to lead those students forth.”
She disagreed with co-ed classrooms for the units, as well.
“I see that as the adults breaking down the barriers of modesty … that have been part of our culture for years,” Riley said. “And you might say that I’m old-fashioned. But those are things that have withstood the test of time for the last few years.”
John Rieley said he was frustrated that the district must follow government education requirements. He supported Fink’s efforts in the process, calling it a moral decision.
“I believe there is a weariness of the community, of the constant pressure, of the breakdowns in social morals that have made this nation great. I think there is a time and place when we begin to say “enough is enough” and point the children to the parents instead of a teacher or curriculum.”
He also disparaged the Common Core educational standards, which do not include a health curriculum.
“I don’t think government should dictate what we’re learning,” said Sussex Central senior Charlie Megginson, but “I don’t see it as the government telling us what to learn. Students and families have the option to opt out, which is great.”
He said he saw the process as an example of democracy.
“It’s also important that students are getting a comprehensive education so they’re prepared for what they’ll face in the real world,” Megginson said.
A longtime family friend of Shaun Fink, Megginson said he preferred to “agree to disagree.”
Some people, including Heidi Driscoll, agreed with teaching sex-ed and family values at home. But this teacher called herself a realist.
“I go into school and I see these kids that have never eaten at table with a family. … They don’t have anyone to sit down and talk with them,” Driscoll said. “They don’t have parents there to talk to them about this stuff.”
A different perspective altogether came from Heather Clark, a mother of four. She said personal sexuality should be taught behind closed doors, although she’s very open in her household about sexuality.
“I’m not sure if I want the different sexual preferences of people … taught,” she said. “In my house we are taught to love everybody. I think education is the key, but I [don’t] think sexual preference has to be a part of it.”
Clark’s children, ages 8 to 18 “are not taught to be prejudiced against anybody,” she emphasized.
“I came tonight to get educated” on the new curriculum. “There’s a good chance that I might,” she said of opting her children out of class, but she wants to be fully informed first.
Teaching human sexuality
Sex-ed is no stranger to the classroom. The State requires certain health topics be taught, including sex-ed, HIV/AIDS prevention and more. But previously, “Our district had never adopted a set of materials for our teachers to use. Therefore our teachers were using materials they brought back from state trainings … selecting material they felt was appropriate,” but perhaps inconsistent across the district, said Hudson.
The school board approved new textbooks for the entire health curriculum last fall but held back the new human sexuality unit until it could be thoroughly vetted by a Health Curriculum Subcommittee.
Hudson and Will Revels, supervisor of secondary instruction, led a group of teachers, administrators, principals, nurses, counselors and community members who were part of the committee.
“Each lesson was reviewed in detail. So, word for word, we went through the teacher manual,” Hudson said. “We discussed it. We debated. We wordsmithed … each and every subject.”
She thanked the committee for its dedication and hard work.
“It was of value to every single student in our school district,” she said.
The district is aiming to fulfill state anti-bullying laws by including the definitions of words such as gay, lesbian, homosexuality, asexuality and more.
The 18-week health classes will begin with the topics of emotional and mental health.
“Everything would build from there, so when you get to the sexuality unit at the end, students would have information what a healthy relationship is and what a healthy relationship isn’t,” Revels said.
While lessons often encourage teenage abstinence, there are lessons on birth control, condoms and other STD and pregnancy prevention methods.
All lessons will be taught in a co-ed classroom, except for one. At the last minute, Revels and Hudson agreed that discussion of physical self-exams, such as self-performed breast and testicular exams, should be separated by gender, as recommended by the textbooks.
Hudson said board members wanted plenty of emphasis placed on breast and testicular exams. It should only require an extra teacher for one class per semester, she noted.
Parents can still opt-out of the sex ed unit, or particular classes.
Abortion is not mentioned anywhere in the curriculum.
The Southern Delaware Nautical Sounds Barbershop Chorus is offering Singing Valentines on Friday, Feb. 13, and Saturday, Feb. 14.
A quartet will travel to the home or place of business of the object of the givers’ affections and present him or her with a long-stemmed rose, a Valentine card and two songs. The cost is $40.
Contact Herman Rotsch at (302) 644-1321 to arrange time and place.
“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Powerful words, spoken by perhaps one of the greatest presidents in the nation’s history, are just one of the many historic moments created by the 16th president Abraham Lincoln.
To celebrate Lincoln’s birthday, the Ocean View Historical Society is sponsoring “An Interview with Mr. Lincoln,” presented by local thespians Barbara Slavin and Robert Ross.
“I got this idea when I thought about [Robert’s] stature — that he would make a great Abraham Lincoln,” said Slavin, noting that both she and Ross have researched Lincoln and the Civil War. “So I decided to take the information I had and make it into a play.”
The presentation will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. at Ocean View Town Hall. Light refreshments will be served.
“It’s the day before Lincoln’s birthday. He would be 209 years old. So we thought February is a good month to present it,” said Slavin. “I’m active in the Historical Society, so I just thought this was something that would be fun to do.”
In the production, Slavin plays a contemporary reporter who interviews Lincoln, played by Ross.
“I’m his interviewer in today’s world, and he comes back here to be interviewed. I ask him questions about his early life, his political life, how he got into law, his family life. Then we talk about the Civil War.”
Both actors will be dressed in costumes that Slavin designed and made. The presentation also features a PowerPoint presentation with pictures and music.
Slavin, who worked for 20 years for the DuPont Theatre in Wilmington, Del., owns School Day Theater, which gives similar presentations to school children. “An Interview with Mr. Lincoln” has been performed at Shields Elementary and Sussex County Genealogical Society.
“We have great fun,” said Ross. “We did one for about 300 children. It was a great joy to bring Mr. Lincoln to them personally.”
This will not be Ross’ first venture into acting, as he has previously stared in “spaghetti Westerns” and adventure films in Europe, as well as being one of the first “Marlboro men.”
“[I] wandered the earth, looking for excitement,” said Ross.
During the presentation, Ross will also share some of Lincoln’s clever one-liners, for which he was famous.
“I’ll be sharing a few of Mr. Lincoln’s famous anecdotes. He was notorious for his marvelous sense of humor,” said Ross, noting that Lincoln would use them “often to relieve some of the pressure from himself… he would tell these jokes.”
Slavin said presentations such as “An Interview with Lincoln” give the community the opportunity to learn about an important figure in American history, in a fun and different way.
“I feel like we’re either ignoring history or we’re bypassing it,” she said. “The further we get into our background, the more difficult it is to teach it, because you’re compacting it.
“With a play like this, it leaves a visual impression that might be a little more meaningful… I just feel that live theater gives a chance to visualize and have a little more fun.”
Ocean View Town Hall is located at 32 West Avenue in Ocean View. For more information regarding the presentation, or to schedule a presentation for a school or community organization, call Slavin at (302) 593-8814.
The excitement of receiving a long-awaited package in the mail can be palpable. And Bethany Beach Books hopes to give book-lovers the chance to get excited each month with a new book subscription service, called the Book Drop.
“A lot of our customers ask, ‘What are your book clubs reading?’” explained Amanda Zirn, assistant manager at Bethany Beach Books. “So we knew our customers wanted to be in ‘the loop’ to a certain extent and were also open to guidance when it came to selecting their next read.
“That knowledge, in addition to us noticing the popularity and success of box subscription services, like BarkBox and BirchBox, sparked the idea for the Book Drop.”
Zirn said that the longer they mulled over the idea, the more they thought many customers would appreciate reading hand-picked titles without having to commit to a book club.
“The more we thought about it, the more we realized our customers might appreciate a ‘book-of-the-month’ program — especially our customers who are only seasonal and can’t visit the store as often.
“Deciding what to name the program proved to be a little more difficult,” Zirn noted. “A lot of names we liked were already chosen or being used by other book-related programs. My brother actually ended up coming up with the name, ‘the Book Drop.’”
Those who sign up for the service may choose a type of book that best suits their reading preferences.
“We offer a few different subscription packages for adults, ‘The Jane’ and ‘The Ernest,’ both named after two of our favorite classic writers,” said Zirn.
“When subscribing to ‘The Jane,’ you are going to receive books that fall mainly into contemporary fiction, historical fiction and literary fiction genres. This is our most classic ‘book club’ subscription, and we will be sending books that will be great for book clubs and discussions.
“‘The Ernest’ is for more for our adventure readers. Subscribers will receive thrillers, mysteries and action-packed novels, as well as a few non-fiction books every now and then.
“We also offer a subscription for young adults,” she noted, “which we suggest is for readers with a maturity level of 14 to 15-plus, and a children’s subscription for ages 8 to 12.”
The cost for the subscription ranges from $13 to $30 per month, and subscribers will receive a handpicked book sent right to their doorsteps, mailed out on the 24th of each month.
“Our books will be chosen based on a few different factors and sources. All of the books will be recently published, within the last six months. Our hardcover subscribers will be receiving books that have been published within the last three months,” explained Zirn.
“With the help of our publishing reps, customers and staff, we will be selecting some really great reads that our subscribers may not have discovered otherwise. This is not a subscription service that will be sending out all the bestsellers,” she added.
“Anyone can go online and look up the New York Times Bestseller List. Instead, we will be sending books that are perhaps by debut authors or authors that aren’t necessarily on the radar or in the spotlight — not always — but the objective is to expose people to really great books that they may not have otherwise discovered.
“We will also be sending signed copies of books, especially during the summer months when we host all of our author signings.”
Zirn said choosing one’s next read can be a difficult and sometimes intimidating process. With the Book Drop, Bethany Beach Books hopes to give readers the chance to enjoy reading the latest books without having to figure out what’s next on their “to read” list.
“We are trying to help people find amazing books to read — especially those who feel they have no time to read. If you’re trying to find more time to read, I’m not sure there’s anything easier than having someone else pick out an amazing book for you and then mailing it straight to your home,” she said.
“We understand that anyone can download an e-book on their tablet within seconds, but most e-readers don’t come with a friendly, reading-addicted staff who will hand-pick a book for you.
“That’s the independent bookstore edge we are trying to create with this project — allowing people from all over the country, as well as our customers who live a few hours away (and locals, too!), benefit from the ‘indie love’ we can extend,” Zirn added. “Not everyone is lucky enough to have an independent bookstore in their town, so we are trying to bring the independent bookstore to them as best we can.”
If a subscriber already owns a book chosen for the Book Drop, it may be returned to Bethany Beach Books for a store credit.
Not only is a subscription to the Book Drop a great gift to oneself, Zirn said, but she also recommends gifting it to a special someone for their birthday, Christmas or even Valentine’s Day.
“A subscription to the Book Drop makes a great gift because, in addition to being thoughtful (and effortless), it’s a gift that will show up on their doorstep month after month. The surprise factor of not knowing what book you’ll get is also very exciting.
“This is a great gift for people who read all the time, as we will be sending books that are ‘off the beaten path,’ as well as for people who perhaps don’t read as often as they’d like. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, this will definitely be a gift that your significant other will be excited and surprised by!”
With the subscription service launching later in February, Zirn said this week that the books for the month have yet to be finalized.
‘We also won’t be announcing what titles are being sent until they have already been mailed and received by our subscribers. We really love the surprise factor about the Book Drop.”
Zirn said Bethany Beach Books hopes the service will give booklovers the chance to find some new favorite books, and help perpetuate the customers’ love of reading.
“We really hope our customers enjoy and appreciate The Book Drop. We are hoping this will be a way for our out-of-town customers to still feel like they are part of the Bethany Beach Books family, even though they can’t visit very often. We especially hope that this helps people read more often!”
For more information about the Book Drop, visit www.thebookdrop.com or call Bethany Beach Books at (302) 539-2522.
DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation has received approval by DNREC Secretary David Small to implement new user fee increases that will go into effect mid-month.
As enacted by the Delaware General Assembly, passed in the 2015 Bond & Capital Improvement Act (HB 425), the division held three open houses in December to receive public input on the fee increases, including daily entrance fees, annual park passes and surf permits. Officials said open houses indicated overwhelming support for the increases.
Further, based on a follow-up survey, more than 84 percent of respondents supported the increases, they said. In addition, the Parks & Recreation Advisory Council unanimously approved the fee increases at their December meeting.
Delaware’s state parks are primarily self-funded, with 65 percent of revenue to operate and maintain the parks from park users. Officials said the collection of user fees has been affected by influences including economic downturns, bad weather, increased visitor service costs and vacation patterns of visitors. Overall, the fee increases are expected to generate a total of $1.1 million in additional annual revenue for Delaware’s state parks.
“Delaware State Parks has maintained a high level of public service without adjusting fees for the last 10 years,” said Ray Bivens, director of Parks & Recreation. “The division currently has crucial projects that cannot be started or completed due to lack of funding.
“Many of these directly affect park users, such as aging bathhouses or lack of electric access in campgrounds, which affect both visitors and the division’s revenue. We currently have a $100 million backlog in maintenance and capital projects, and we have had to borrow money to address major utility repairs at heavily-visited parks,” said Bivens.
The new fee increases will go into effect Sunday, Feb. 15. Delaware resident annual passes will increase from $27 to $35. Those 62 or older will pay $18 for an annual pass. Lifetime passes, available to those 65 or older, will increase in cost from $50 to $65. The military pass will increase to $17.50. The Assistance Program pass (for low-income residents) will not increase; its price remains $10.
Surf-fishing permit prices will also increase Feb. 15. Delaware residents will see an increase of $15, to $80 for a one-year tag, and a $30 increase — to $160 — for a two-year tag. Seniors will receive a $10 deduction from the one-year tag, and a $20 deduction on the two-year tag.
Entrance fees are collected from March 1 to Nov. 30. Day passes for Delawareans will increase $1. At ocean parks, Delaware visitors will pay $5 per vehicle, and the cost is $4 at inland parks.
Those looking to make good of their New Year’s resolutions to get healthy and fit will find a unique opportunity at Bethany Beach’s new Coastal Athlete, a personal training studio.
“I’ve got over 20 years of personal training and small-group fitness experience and athletic performance fitness,” said owner and trainer Trevor Hurd, a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS).
“I’ve personally trained over 50 Division I scholarship athletes. I’ve trained some professional tennis players. I’ve got experience from professional athletes to collegiate athletes, high school, young, and then the everyday man and woman looking to lose some weight and get in shape.”
Coastal Athlete opened its doors Jan. 12, with a mission “to train every individual to achieve success, whether on the playing field or in life.” Combined with cutting-edge equipment, the “training regimen is functional, progressive and adaptive.”
“Our philosophy is ‘train hard, train fast and train smart,’” said Hurd.
The studio offers personal training, semi-personal training, athletic performance training, online training and corporate fitness. With a limited membership, Coastal Athlete is currently ready to receive clients.
The rate for a 45-minute session is $60. Up to three people can attend one training session and can split the cost among them.
“The fitness industry itself has a bad name because of big-box gyms and big contracts, additional fees, hidden fees and so forth. That’s not me. It’s a simple and it’s an honest fee structure.”
Hurd said he does not offer contracts for clients (“You only pay for what you train”) and is excited to provide an intimate training environment.
“I enjoy training. I’m kind of a people-person. I like to help people. I like to work with a small number of clients because I see the best results. I’m able to focus all of my attention on the limited number of clients that I have.
“It’s all about personal attention — attention to detail, attention to form. The ability for a trainer to in the process of you doing a specific exercise, correct form or increase or decrease tempo. It’s all about me perceiving where you are and pushing you harder because everything we do is progressive. From Day 1, we want to get you better, even if it’s a little bit at a time. That’s really where individual attention comes into play.”
Hurd said Coastal Athlete will offer community members and visitors the chance to have a different training experience than what they may be used to.
“What I’m going for is the ability to offer locals and tourists, renters, a private, elite studio atmosphere, where it’s more about personal attention. They don’t have to worry about somebody on the treadmill next to them or somebody on the leg-press machine. We’ll have drapes, so people who don’t want to be seen won’t be seen.”
Before beginning training sessions with Hurd, each client will meet with him to have a free evaluation.
“You would come in and we’d sit down and talk about your goals — performance goals and aesthetic goals, and also health goals,” he explained.
“Then I’d put together a plan on how we’d go about reaching those goals. It would be a combination of nutrition, flexibility, strength training, core training, and also rest and recovery. It’s all those facets that combine to get you to where you want to go.”
In addition to training with Hurd, clients will do food journals, and daily and weekly homework, as well as receive daily motivational text messages.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Hurd began playing tennis at the age of 6, followed by competitive tennis at the age of 8.
“Then I went on to play Junior National Tennis. I was nationally ranked as a junior tennis player. I played Division I and Division III of collegiate tennis. I was an All-American in 1992 and played a little bit of professional tennis,” he said. “I’ve been an athlete my entire life. It’s just what I know.”
As a certified strength and conditioning specialist, Hurd believes his expertise will be an asset to those who train with him.
“[It’s] the highest fitness certification in the world. It’s the only fitness certification that requires a college degree,” he said. “I’m really proud of that. That’s right up there with the rest of my athletic achievements.”
With 20-plus years in the fitness industry, including training at some of the top clubs in the country, such as the Pinehurst Resort and the Baltimore Country Club, Hurd specializes in functional fitness.
“I train people not only to perform athletically better, but also function better as a human being,” he said. “There aren’t any machines. It’s all kettle bells, body weight, bands and cones. No treadmills, no ellipticals,” he said. “I’m a proponent of all fitness. Everything is good. I just look at it from a different angle.”
The studio, which is in the Holiday House Shops, is only 50 feet off the beach, which Hurd said was a huge selling point for the space.
“I wanted to be close to the beach. I love workouts in soft sand, so we’ll do a lot of workouts in soft sand,” he said. “In the spring and summer, I’ll be offering boot camps for the general public.”
This is Hurd’s first time starting a business, and he said he’s excited to be working with the local business community.
“I’ve already talked to other businesses about doing cross-promotional stuff. I’m really excited about being local. I almost feel like I’m a piece of the pie — we’re right down in the gist of everything.”
Hurd said he strives to provide both excellence and value.
“I want to offer the highest level of training at the lowest price point in Bethany, and I do that,” he said. “I want to be seen as a true value — you’re getting your money’s worth.”
Coastal Athlete is located at 97 Garfield Parkway, in Holiday House Shops #9, in Bethany Beach. For more information, visit www.coastalathlete.com, email Coastalathlete@yahoo.com or call (423) 260-0272.
Following the resignation letter submitted Jan. 26 by Frankford police officer Nate Hudson, the Frankford Town Council announced earlier this week the Town plans to advertise for police officers.
“We didn’t want him to go, but he’s doing what’s best for him,” said Town Councilman Charles Shelton of Hudson’s resignation. “We’re going to advertise for another police chief and officer.”
“We need two to keep our town safe,” added Councilwoman Cheryl Workman.
Shelton said he plans to meet with the police committee, which was formed at the January council meeting, to discuss the advertising.
“Maybe we can get a fulltime chief, and maybe we can get some part-time people and maybe save the Town some money,” he said. “That way, we don’t have to pay a salary for two officers.”
With Hudson leaving his post in Frankford next week, Shelton said he had spoken to the Dagsboro and Selbyville police departments, who said they would help the Town with coverage as much as they can, until Frankford can hire new officers.
“Nate is leaving in a week, so we have to move on this thing pretty soon,” he said. “We’re definitely going to have to get this ball rolling.”
The council voted 4-0 to advertise for new officers.
Council approves concept for pension plan
Also at the Feb. 2 monthly meeting, the council heard a presentation from resident Marty Presley, who has 30 years of experience in the financial field and who serves on the Town’s recently formed healthcare and pension committee.
The committee, which met three times last month, consists of Council President Joanne Bacon and Councilwoman Pam Davis, along with Presley and fellow residents Liz Carpenter and Jerry Smith.
During his presentation, Presley said that, at present, the Town of Frankford pays 100 percent of the cost of health insurance for fulltime employees, as well as for the employees’ dependents.
Presley said the cost to the Town for healthcare in 2015 would be $56,108.88. Comparing the current cost to the $20,900 budgeted for 2011, Presley said there was a 270 percent increase, or 54 percent increase annually. He noted that the average increase nationally is 5.2 percent annually. He said that most of the information reviewed by the committee and presented to the council was provided by the Town’s current insurance broker.
“We are so out of whack on this as far as costs go for this four-year period,” he said.
When researching what would be best for the Town, Presley said, the Town’s broker reviewed coverage used in other municipalities.
Presley said the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PP-ACA) stipulates that, if a municipality offers employee dependent coverage, whether it’s used or not used, the dependent who could be covered cannot go through the exchanges to purchase insurance and use the subsidies available.
He added that the PP-ACA does not require the Town to carry health insurance for its employees. Individuals are required to have health insurance, or face a penalty, and larger companies may have to pay an assessment if employees get insurance elsewhere and make use of one of the associated “premium tax credits” that can help offset individuals’ costs.
The committee recommended two options to the council: Keep the current healthcare plan and forego a pension plan, or change to an 80/20 split of health care premiums between employer and employee, with no additional coverage offered for dependents.
Presley noted that the federal government currently picks up 75 percent of employee costs for health insurance, compared to the 80 percent recommended for the Town of Frankford.
The committee recommended the council choose that second option, which wouldn’t preclude the Town from having a pension plan, by eliminating dependent coverage and sending those individuals to the marketplace for coverage.
“This would cost the Town $23,796 per year and additionally result in a savings of $32,204 per year for the Town,” said Presley, noting that the dependents would be able to choose what plan in the marketplace would work best for them.
The committee recommended a one-time salary gross up — an increase to the employees’ salaries — of 5 percent be implemented to cover pension costs. Presley said that, while the increase in salary would be a permanent change, future increases in healthcare costs would be the responsibility of the employee, to maintain the 80/20 split.
Based on a salary of $30,000, the preferred provider organization plan the Town’s broker recommended, which Presley said would probably be the best fit for the Town, would cost $661 per employee per month, with the employee paying 20 percent, or $132.20, of that cost.
He noted that dependent coverage on the exchange under the Silver plan would cost the employee an additional $148 per month, for a total cost to the employee of $280.20. Presley explained that, without the salary gross up, employees could be taking a financial “hit” with the change.
“What we’re proposing to do is to increase each employee’s salary by $300 a month,” he said, adding that the committee recommended implementing a 5 percent defined-contribution pension plan that would match the employee’s contributions to the plan up to 5 percent of their salary.
“Based on that $30,000 income, they would be getting a $130 a month contribution to the pension plan, for a total benefit of $430 a month.”
“I work for a very large national company, and we get 3 percent,” said Carpenter, who works in the healthcare industry. “I think 5 percent is pretty competitive.”
Presley said that the council could structure the Town’s contribution in terms of vesting.
“…To protect the Town’s money, so that if someone leaves in six months or a year, you reserve the right not to have them leave with the Town’s money, just their own,” added Carpenter.
He added that he wanted to address a recent article published in a local newspaper that paraphrased unnamed Frankford officials in stating the reason the Town had lost its two police officers was due to the Town not putting in a pension and healthcare plan.
“Everyone in this room knows that’s bogus. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t know that [former Chief William] Dudley was already prepared to leave at the end of December…
“As soon as the December Town meeting, the council wanted to vote on the Town pension plan and put that in. Of the $65,000, $55,000 would be in North Carolina right now, and this officer [Hudson] would be quitting right now. This Town would be out of $65,000. If you go with the pension plan we’re recommending, that’ll never happen.”
“I was very pleased with the work that went into that,” said Bacon, following Presley’s presentation.
Workman said the information compiled and presented was very informative.
“This is very interesting. I would like to have a chance to look over it before we make a decision,” she said.
However, the council voted 3-1, with Workman opposed, to implement the 80/20 split option as proposed by the committee, and have the plan in place no later than April 1.
The moment that many inland bays residents have awaited is here. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened public comments for Delaware shellfish aquaculture on Jan. 21. Comments are due by Wednesday, Feb. 23.
“The public comment period is the next phase in the process for approving the eight proposed shellfish aquaculture sites in the Inland Bays,” according to state Sen. Gerald Hocker Sr. and state Rep. Ron Gray. “Before DNREC can offer leases for the proposed oyster farms, the Army Corps of Engineers must allow the public the opportunity to submit their concerns.”
When aquaculture was voted into existence in 2013, many believed the new industry could only do good. It could create jobs, produce a special Delaware oyster product and help filter the inland bays, which are in need of cleaner water for their health.
But for some residents and businesses, that rosy picture faded when the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) announced the planned aquaculture locations last summer.
A total of 442 one-acre plots are proposed in Rehoboth Bay, Indian River Bay, Little Assawoman Bay and Delaware’s portion of the Big Assawoman Bay.
Some waterfront residents have criticized the locations over everything from environmental concerns to a battle for recreational space and the visual aspect of watercraft cultivating oysters or clams in shallow-water bags or cages.
“Make sure you make yourself known why you think it’s the wrong location,” said Hocker, who himself planned to do so, having voted for aquaculture before the controversial locations were announced.
“I suggest not sending the same exact letter. I don’t know who drafted the letter, but I must have gotten a 100 of the same letter,” Hocker told his constituents in November. “It’s a lot more weight when it’s a personal letter from those who are affected.”
The Corps is seeking comment from federal, state and local agencies, as well as private citizens and groups with an interest in the program.
But when making an argument, there is a difference between what is inconvenient and what is detrimental, said Corps biologist Ed Bonner.
He said he hasn’t read the comments the Corps has received in-depth, but he’s glanced at them and understands the gist of many complaints.
When he reviews comments for the Philadelphia District (which includes Delaware), Bonner said he sometimes receives vague complaints.
“I have a hard time grasping what the issue is and the objective is, and how I can address that?”
If someone complains about the impact on wetlands, he said, “I look at the sites and I see none are located in wetlands. All are located offshore.”
As for navigation, “If someone is in a scenario where someone has to go around something that wasn’t there before, that’s one thing,” Bonner warned. If a resident can prove that he cannot access his dock as a result of the planned aquaculture site, Bonner said he may ask DNREC to remove that individual site.
The Corps will consider endangered species, navigation and more, and how that relates to aquaculture and the recreational use of the area.
“If there is an issue [like endangered species], that’s one of the things I will try to sit down and resolve,” Bonner said. “We will try to do a thorough assessment on the physical site, but a lot is based on the survey the State has done.”
The Corps is also reviewing is own approval process.
Typically, individual shellfish growers apply to the Corps for a permit. The 45-day process includes review of the site and environmental concerns. But a revision to the nationwide permit 48 (NWP 48), which authorizes U.S. commercial shellfish aquaculture activities, means that growers in Delaware could apply for those eight zones in a streamlined process.
A grower would still need approval, but the Corps could respond in weeks, rather than months, because DNREC and the Corps already did the legwork.
“Some of them are upset with the way the state process has taken place. I feel their pain,” Bonner said, but “I have to be careful. I cannot dictate to the State their state program. I have to see how I can fit that state program into my [national] permit process.”
He said the day-to-day impact of aquaculture depends on people’s current use of the shallow water. Because it’s shallow, “You’re not looking at 200-foot vessels coming into the inland bays.”
He said he is open to ideas.
“Anyone can request a public hearing. … Our decision whether to host a public hearing is based on whether there is any significant information out there that we have not considered,” Bonner said.
“Public hearing is oftentimes an opportunity for the public to vent,” he warned. “We have to assess, is there a venting, or new information we can get from that?”
If a public hearing is scheduled, Bonner would post notice on the Philadelphia Corps website and personally send a mass email to his list of concerned parties. (He said the Corps used to send notification to adjacent property owners for national plans. But that no longer occurs and he said there are no property owners truly adjacent to the sites anyway. All the proposed sites are surrounded by State-owned waters.)
Ultimately, the Corps may approve a few or all sites, or “We may say, ‘Nope, there’s too much controversy. There’s too much unknown.’”
View the aquaculture plans online at www.nap.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx or read DNREC’s history at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Fisheries/Pages/ShellfishAquaculture.aspx.
Comments can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to the District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Philadelphia District; Wanamaker Building, 100 Penn Square East; Philadelphia, PA 19107-3390; RE: Delaware Inland Bays Aquaculture.
The Delaware State Police’s Major Crimes Unit this week was continuing to investigate the death of a 10-month-old male infant at a Long Neck daycare on Jan. 28, waiting for the results of further tests that were conducted as part of the autopsy.
On Wednesday, Jan. 28, a daycare worker at Handy’s Little Disciples daycare, located at 28194 Layton-Davis Road, called 911 around 2:15 p.m., after attempting to wake the infant from a nap and finding him to be unresponsive.
Master Cpl. Gary Fournier, public information officer for the DSP, said that the daycare provider began infant CPR prior to EMS arriving at the facility. Following their arrival, the young child was transported by EMS to Beebe Healthcare in Lewes, where he was eventually pronounced dead.
The child’s body was turned over to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science to determine the exact cause and manner of his death.
“An autopsy has been conducted, and the cause and manner of death have been ruled ‘Pending,’” explained Fournier. “This means they are continuing other forms of tests before making a final ruling. This could take up to eight weeks.”
Fournier said detectives are continuing their investigation into the incident, while working in conjunction with Division of Family Services.
“Department of Services for Children, Youth & Families is also conducting an investigation into the licensing,” he said.
Fournier said he was unable to provide information as to whether or not the DSP or paramedics had been called to Handy’s Little Disciples in the past.
Although he emphasized that the DSP is unable to comment on any active investigation, Fournier said there were “no signs of visible injury or trauma to the child.”
Those looking to learn more about the growing heroin epidemic can take advantage of an opportunity being provided to the community by the Ocean View Police Department next week.
On Thursday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m., the OVPD, along with Brandywine Counseling & Community Services, will be holding Delaware Overdose Survival Education (DOSE).
“They have advertised courses statewide and were only holding one in Sussex, in the Rehoboth area,” explained OVPD Chief Ken McLaughlin. “We reached out to them to see if we could host a second one.”
McLaughlin said it’s his goal in 2015 to work on the area’s heroin problem.
“For 2015, we’ve identified the heroin problem as a big issue that we want to tackle,” he said.
The department has already taken steps on that front by having an anonymous no-questions-asked drug drop-off box in town hall and a new drug-detecting K-9 unit, as well as officer training.
McLaughlin stated that the department also hopes to do community outreach and education.
“This is our first stab at that,” he said.
According to Brandywine Counseling and Community Services, DOSE is a program designed for anyone who wants to help opiate users, including themselves, avoid and survive an overdose.
Those who complete the one-hour training workshop will receive a certificate of completion. With the certificate, participants can then talk to their doctor about receiving a prescription for Naloxone — more commonly known as Narcan — which can counteract the effects of an opiate overdose.
“You don’t have to come to the class and get Narcan if you don’t want it,” added McLaughlin. “It’s an educational program on heroin and overdoses. It’s a good workshop just to address those topics.
“Even if you don’t want to get the Narcan, we’re still encouraging people to come out and learn more about the heroin problem in Delaware.”
The class is free and open to the public. McLaughlin said those who wish to purchase a Narcan kit can purchase them for approximately $50. He noted, however, that there are grant programs to help supplement the cost of the kits for those who cannot afford them.
McLaughlin said “anybody and everybody” should attend the DOSE workshop.
“This problem with the heroin use in Delaware is impacting everyone in a lot of different ways. We have people that are addicts themselves who are suffering; we have people who have a family member or loved one who’s an addict and suffering.
“It’s impacting everyone in so many different ways. This workshop is a great opportunity for people to come out and learn more about this epidemic and maybe pick up some tips as to how they can help someone out who is suffering or maybe even prevent an addiction from being started.”
McLaughlin said everyone should educate themselves regarding the “big problem” that is heroin.
According to the New Castle County Police Department, said McLaughlin, between 2012 and 2014 that department has seen a 2,206 percent increase in heroin usage, an 860 percent increase in heroin-related arrests and a 2,000 percent increase in the seizure of heroin products. He said it is a problem that needs to be addressed, with more individuals taking the initiative to become educated.
“Everyone is suffering from this epidemic, and we encourage people to come and learn more about it,” he said.
McLaughlin said the workshop is one of many outreach programs his department plans to hold in 2015.
The Ocean View Police Department is located in the Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building at 201 Central Avenue. in Ocean View.
Frankford resident Liz Carpenter spoke to the Town council at its monthly meeting on Feb. 2 about her concern regarding “profiling and discrimination” after hearing that a number of Town residents who filled out voter registration applications were sent a letter regarding their citizenship.
“It came to our attention that a certain number of voters who were apparently accepted as registered voters at the last town meeting — their names were read by the Town Council president [Joanne Bacon] — after that meeting, they received from the Town a certified letter indicating that they would have to prove that they were United States citizens in order to vote in the election coming up on Saturday.”
Carpenter said she was displeased with the action, but not because she is in favor of allowing those who reside in the country illegally to vote in town elections.
“My primary issue is that they were chosen to receive this letter based on the fact, apparently, whether they were born in another country or whether they had a specific last name — specifically Hispanic or Turkish.”
She emphasized that asking on an application where someone is born “does not necessarily equate with citizenship in a country.”
“I think the action taken has caused intimidation, can be viewed as an attempt to control the outcome of the election, and deter and control the voice of the registered voter. It is my feeling that that action has violated voter rights.”
Carpenter said it is her belief voter rights have been violated because, when last she checked, the Town’s website — which does not have the Town’s updated Charter shown — does not state that a registered voter needs to be a U.S. citizen.
“I think it’s fair to say the Town is obviously promoting the election on the website. I think it’s fair to say that anyone who goes to the website would assume that the information which they happen to find would be assumed to be correct, legal and valid.”
Carpenter said she was concerned that the applications submitted went through town hall, were placed on an agenda and were read into the minutes at the January council meeting.
“And after that fact, the Town takes an egregious act and sends a certified letter indicating that, ‘Oh, well — sorry. You’re going to have to prove you’re a U.S. citizen.’ Requiring that of some people because of birthplace or apparent last name, when you’re not requiring it of everyone, is not acceptable and not fair.”
She added that, while some notices about the election had been corrected to include the U.S. citizenship requirement, other notices had not.
“I stopped by after church to the post office yesterday, and the flyer hanging, indicating voter qualifications, does not indicate that you have to be a U.S. citizen. So, depending upon where you decide to visit in town, you might come across information that you do have to be a citizen or that you don’t.
“It is not the voters’ problem or the citizens’ problem that town hall cannot seem to get the correct information disseminated to the residents. These people should not be victims of that.”
She added that she had sent a letter outlining her concerns to Sussex County Department of Elections Deputy Director Jean Turner, who forwarded it to Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader, who had responded. Carpenter went on to say that she had sent a response to that letter but had yet to receive additional correspondence from either party.
Schrader said it is not unusual for U.S. citizenship to be part of the criteria for being able to vote in a municipal election. He said that, after a brief search, he found 10 towns in Sussex County, as well as the State of Delaware, that require voters to be U.S. citizens.
“The process of sending letters to applicants that showed they were born outside the United States is parallel to the one the State of Delaware uses when you register to vote and don’t have proof of citizenship,” he said, adding that he was told that not one of the residents who were sent the letter followed up with proof of citizenship.
Carpenter said that, while she understands the requirement, but is upset with the mistake in disseminating the correct information to the Town’s residents.
“How do you not know I’m Canadian? How do you know I didn’t lie?” she added.
The applications in question, said Carpenter, were delivered to town hall by a third party, which indicated such registration was accepted practice.
“As an aside, I brought my husband’s in,” she said. “I didn’t have to show proof of address for him. I didn’t have to show his driver’s license. I didn’t have to show anything to hand in his voter application, and he will be here Saturday to vote.”
Carpenter requested that the Town send another letter to those residents, delivered no later than Feb. 5, apologizing for their initial letter and inviting them to vote in Saturday’s election only, and that the Town also consider adopting the Motor Voter Law.
“You’re then asking the town council to waive a Charter requirement that somebody be a U.S. citizen,” said Schrader. “I do want to point out one thing — you can register all year long, folks.”
Resident Jerry Smith said that, prior to the Town’s 2012 Charter change, the Town did allow non-U.S. citizens to vote in the municipal election.
“The Town apparently selectively uses what it wants from the old Charter,” he said.
Bacon told those residents in attendance that she was aware of the letters sent to those who were thought to not have been born in the U.S.
Town Administrator Terry Truitt said she had initially contacted Turner following the Town’s January meeting, where she was directed to research having an interpreter at the election.
“When I contacted Jean Turner, Jean Turner questioned why the Town was going to be the first to set a precedent for using an interpreter, and why we felt we needed one,” explained Truitt, noting that she had responded to Turner by saying the Town was trying to be proactive, as it has a large population of Hispanic residents.
“She said, ‘Are they U.S. citizens?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know,’” recalled Truitt. “She said, ‘What information do you know?’ and I read it exactly verbatim. Of course, she had the website, she had the Charter. She said if their birthplace states any place other that the United States, they need to show residence and show they are now naturalized.”
Truitt added that Turner had stated that part of the process to become a naturalized citizen includes a requirement for some fluency in written and spoken English.
Truitt said she drafted the letter with Bacon, at the advice of Turner, giving those who registered a little over two and a half weeks to provide the Town with proof of naturalization.
“I didn’t get a call or hear from anyone,” she said.
“I don’t think there’s anything the town council can do tonight,” said Schrader, noting the topic was not on the agenda for that evening’s meeting.
“There will be no resolution to that tonight,” said Bacon.
The issue was scheduled to be discussed in appeals held before State Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove on Wednesday, after Coastal Point’s press deadline. Manlove was expected to issue a decision for both complaints on Wednesday night. Visit the Coastal Point’s website at www.coastalpoint.com or see our social media accounts on Facebook (www.facebook.com/coastalpoint) and Twitter (@coastalpoint) for late-breaking updates.
Two Frankford citizens have appealed to Delaware State Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove following two decisions reached by the Town’s Board of Elections after a special meeting was held to address complaints regarding the Town’s upcoming election.
The hearing was held on Jan. 30 before Frankford BOE members Elma Gray, Peggy Schaffer and Pamela Hoban.
A three-page complaint from resident Jerry Smith to Council President Joanne Bacon and Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader, dated Jan. 20, stated that the “hours of the election are no longer delineated in the charter. The ‘Town Council’ has not decided and established what the hours of the election are to be — a requirement of the current charter. Frankford is attempting to use the hours established under the excised portion of the previous Charter.”
In a separate four-page complaint, dated Jan. 15, Frankford resident Greg Welch stated that there are several issues that are “denying our community a fair election,” many of which he believes were created with the Town’s 2012 Charter change.
“The 2012 Charter amendment made it a requirement to be a registered qualified voter of the Town to be a council member. Prior to this amendment, neither the Town or State had that requirement. The 2012 Charter amendment discarded the established voter registration and candidacy filing deadlines without adopting or establishing current deadlines. The 2012 Charter amendment adopted the State’s procedure for absentee voting, as outlined in Delaware Title 15. The Town is not allowing absentee voting in this year’s election,” wrote Welch in his complaint.
At last Friday’s special meeting, Welch said he had written formal complaints to former Delaware state Rep. John Atkins and former state Sen. George Bunting regarding his concerns.
In their complaints, both residents argued that absentee balloting should be available to the Town’s residents.
In their decision, the board stated that there is “an ambiguity” in the Town’s Charter and Delaware Code, “where one relies upon the other to make a determination as to whether or not absentee balloting exists in the Town of Frankford and neither provision does so.”
The board went on to state that, “in the absence of a specific provision by a charter or ordinance and in the absence of historical precedent upon which to rely, it does not appear that there is or will be authorization for the use of absentee balloting in the upcoming general election.”
The board did, however, recommend that council specifically authorize the use of absentee ballots for future elections.
Both complaints also opined that the election notices provided by the Town were deficient.
During the special meeting, Smith said a vote from council to approve the hours of the election did not occur, and that the council was only provided with one election date. He added that the cutoff date for voters to register was “materially incorrect.”
“The council needed to have a discussion and vote to set the poll hours,” he said.
At the meeting, Welch also stated the hours for the election were insufficient without allowing residents to vote by absentee balloting.
“People have to work Saturday. People have birthday parties they have to go to on Saturdays,” said Welch.
During the hearing, Town Administrator Terry Truitt testified that the Town’s election notices, including dates, had been provided to the Department of Elections in November, and that she was later informed that the Town met the requirements for the notices.
Both Welch and Smith argued that if there was high voter turnout near the closing time of the polls, it would be possible that election officials could turn away voters.
“We have never denied anyone their right to vote,” said Schaffer in a statement that was met with nods from her fellow board members.
Truitt also stated that the Town must meet certain deadlines created by the State to be in compliance with State Code.
In their decision, the board stated that, while the Rules of Procedure require “three affirmative votes shall be required to approve any matter within the jurisdiction of the agency,” there is not a charter or code provision mandating the approval of the notices.
“The board is not persuaded to enforce a rule where the custom and practice is to have the notices provided to the council in advance of its December meeting, and the council did not question and has acquiesced in their posting. During that meeting, the council made announcements based upon their content.”
The board recommended to council that the charter be amended to establish the date of the general election as the second Saturday in March.
Both residents also questioned the legality of the appointments to the Town’s Board of Elections.
“I am of the opinion the Frankford Board of Elections doesn’t exist,” said Smith during last Friday’s special meeting.
Smith also argued that the names and contact information for the board members was not posted in town hall or on the Town’s website, as is required by State Code.
In their decision, the board stated that, while the posting of names and contact information of the board members is required by Delaware Code Title 15 § 7551, “it does not state when such postings shall occur.”
Truitt testified that the names of the board members and their contact information had been posted since November on the bulletin board in town hall, and had recently been posted on the Town’s website, but could not give a specific date of the posting.
“While this pre-election action could have occurred sooner, it is not contrary to the requirements of subchapters IV and V of Chapter 75, Title 15 of Delaware Code…” wrote the board in its decision, noting that the current members of the Board were appointed by the council on Jan. 5, 2009, and have served since “without interruption.”
The board also said that Delaware Code Title 15 § 7551 does not contain a requirement that a new Board of Elections be appointed following the Town’s 2012 Charter chance.
The board recommended the council reaffirm their appointment of a Board of Elections for a term of three years, and the appointment of election officers.
In Welch’s complaint, he also argued that Frankford’s advertised voter registration deadline was not legally established and is incorrect.
Truitt testified that, in order to act in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, the Town counts backward from the date of election to meet deadlines set forth by State law, as well as the advertising deadlines of area newspapers.
“The advertising deadlines of newspapers on their cutoffs is what’s complicated it, and is what made it legally incorrect,” said Welch. “The State says you don’t have to advertise it in the newspaper. So, the remedy is to set a law, set a date, and advertise it properly.”
The board found that for the Town, which has 196 registered voters and “one full-time employee, the Dec. 31 deadline for voter registration is not unreasonable.”
In his complaint, he also said that Town and State officials were misrepresenting the voter registration process.
“The State Election Commissioner is also misrepresenting the voter registration process… At my 2014 eligibility hearing the Attorney General’s Office, State Election Commissioner, and town solicitor misrepresented that our council has the authority to reject voter applications. This was employed to reject my voter application and used to deny me candidacy in our municipal election.”
Welch argued that he previously established he registered to vote in the Town’s election.
“The Town and State are spending thousands of dollars to misrepresent and misuse these deadlines and processes to deny our town fair election,” he wrote. “Our town and state could avoid a lot of acrimony and save a lot of money by abiding by the law. They continue to spend tax dollars to misrepresent the election laws to intentionally deny our town fair elections.”
Welch said he would not fill out the voter card because the voter registration list is exposed to anyone who walks into town hall.
“Your Social Security number and your address [are on the card],” he said.
Board members responded stating that the Social Security numbers of registered voters have been blacked out. He recommended the Town adopt the Motor Voter Laws.
Schrader asked Welch if, at the hearing held before Manlove in January 2014, he was given the opportunity to register to vote.
“I was,” responded Welch.
“And did you,” asked Schrader.
“I did not. You know why — because I couldn’t run in that election and I couldn’t vote in that election because of these illegal deadlines and illegal cutlines,” said Welch.
Schrader asked Welch if he knew if there were any other times during the calendar year that he can register to vote.
“I don’t care when I can, it’s when I can’t that I care about,” responded Welch.
In their decision, the board wrote, “This matter is the same matter previously raised by Mr. Welch in connection with his eligibility to vote and is subject to the doctrine of res judicata and the decision of the State Election Commissioner, dated Jan. 30, 2014.
“In that decision, Commissioner Manlove found that Welch was unwilling to register to vote and that his refusal to simply fill out the required registration card ‘drives the outcome of this case.’ That is, that Mr. Welch is not a registered voter in the Town of Frankford.”
In responding to both complaints, the board recommended the Town council amend the Town Charter to establish the date of the general election as the second Saturday of March; establish the filing deadline for candidates; establish the State’s Voter Registration system in lieu of the current Town system; reaffirm the appointment by the Town Council of a Board of Elections for a term of three years and of Election Officers; and to specifically authorize the use of absentee ballots.
Both residents requested the Board postpone the Town’s election. The board stated that, while they agree the two residents have legitimate complaints, the board would not take any action.
Both chose to appeal the Board’s decisions to the State Election Commissioner. Their hearings were scheduled for Wednesday morning, with no decision available as of the Coastal Point’s press deadline on Wednesday. Manlove issued a decision for both complaints on Wednesday night, denying both residents' appeals but noting her support for the changes recommended by the board.
The election remains scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 7, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Frankford voters will head to the polls on Saturday, Feb. 7, from 1 to 4 p.m. at town hall, to select two council members for new two-year terms. Candidates in the 2015 election include incumbents Joanne Bacon and Cheryl Workman and challengers Dorsey Dear Sr. and Velicia Melson.
The deadline for voter registration for the 2015 town election was Dec. 31. Voters who haven’t voted in two consecutive town elections needed to re-register. Registered voters who are planning vote must take with them 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.
The Coastal Point has once again compiled a series of questions to ask each of the candidates, in order to help our readers cast an informed vote. Two of the four candidates did not return their responses to the Coastal Point before our Wednesday press deadline. The responses of the other two candidates are listed below in alphabetical order by candidate surname.
Q. Do you want new commercial, shopping, or other services to come to Frankford? What would you do make that happen?
A. I am of the opinion that new commercial, shopping and other services would be beneficial to the Town of Frankford to allow economic growth and would certainly be a convenience for the residents of Frankford and the surrounding areas. I do like the small-town atmosphere but would support annexation if it benefits the Town of Frankford.
Q. Do you think the Town should offer its employees a pension plan? Explain.
A. I do believe the Town should offer its employees a pension plan, as long as the financial health of the Town is such to be able to support a pension.
Q. If elected, how do you hope to address the rising cost of healthcare, specifically related to Town employees?
A. Rising healthcare costs is a major concern for many employers and municipalities. If elected, I will strive to implement both a healthcare/pension package that is more in line with today’s standards.
Q. Do you think the Town should have an active police department? If so, explain what you plan to do to get the department up and running.
A. I strongly believe that the Town should have an active police department. As a longtime resident and current council member, it is important to provide police coverage to the town. Just the presence of the police in the town is a sense of security for the residents, and I want that to continue. I will urge the council to act quickly with the requirements necessary to replace the two officers who recently retired/resigned.
Q. What do you hope to bring to the Town if elected?
A. If elected, I hope bring to the Town an avenue for the residents/taxpayers to voice their questions and concerns they may have. It was suggested at prior meetings to form committees consisting of council members and residents/taxpayers regarding issues of concern for the council which ultimately will affect the residents/taxpayers. We recently did this, and I will say that it was informative and I believe very productive. I would like to see that continue. I also hope to bring accountability to the residents/taxpayers, because at the end, that is what the council members are elected to do — represent their interests.
Q. Do you want new commercial, shopping, or other services to come to Frankford? What would you do make that happen?
A. The Town of Frankford needs new commercial properties to enable growth and financial health of the Town. The new commercial properties would need to be unique (restaurants or shops that are not available in surrounding towns) to our area and value added for residents to frequent. Marketing of the town and the town demographics to local developers is a must. Ideally, I would like to see unique local businesses thrive and be successful, as well. Years ago, we had a number of businesses in town (grocery store, dress shop, gas station). We have slowly pushed businesses out of town limits.
Q. Do you think the Town should offer its employees a pension plan? Explain.
A. I am in favor of a retirement plan for full-time employees of the Town. The type of plan and total cost of the plan need to be explored in depth prior to reaching a decision. Presently, the Town has only looked into the State Defined Benefit Plan. This plan is irrevocable once the Town enrolls. It is my opinion there are other plans that offer our employees a means to save for retirement, as well as giving them some control and input in the investment.
No matter what the ultimate plan, I believe the employees should be required to contribute to the plan with a specific maximum percentage contribution by the employer. No plan should be implemented retroactively, due to the time value of money expense. Buying back years in a State plan is extremely expensive. A retirement/pension plan should have a vesting period of three to five years to again show the Town values employees and appreciates the longevity of those employees. Pension plans are a means of encouraging employees to remain with the employer long-term.
Q. If elected, how do you hope to address the rising cost of healthcare, specifically related to Town employees?
A. Healthcare costs are going to continue to rise with the Affordable Care Act. There are ways the Town can minimize those costs by exploring carriers and plans available. A committee was recently enacted to research the matter. I look forward to hearing the advice of Marty Presley, Liz Carpenter and others that are extremely familiar with the issue.
I am also of the opinion that family members of Town employees should be covered under the plan, but at the employee’s financial responsibility. In today’s work environment, it is unheard of for an employer to pay 100 percent of the cost of the employee’s healthcare premium and 100 percent for their family members, as well. A cost share for both the employee and their family members is a must. The cost share could be determined after looking at levels of deductibles vs. healthcare premiums.
The employees are going to be shell-shocked, and a compromise could be reached, but a full ride must end, as the Town simply cannot continue to bear 100 percent of the financial burden. It’s also unfair to those employees that do not have family members covered under the plan to “lose” money because other employees receive that benefit. Uniformity and one rule for all employees is a must.
Q. Do you think the Town should have an active police department? If so, explain what you plan to do to get the department up and running.
A. It is unfortunate that Nate Hudson has announced his intent to leave Frankford. I believe if the town council handled things differently, Nate could still be a valued employee of the Town. The Town of Frankford needs a police department! That is now going to require work on the part of Town Council and citizens of the town.
A committee was formed of individuals with expertise in public safety to plan for best practices on a go forward basis. I have a great deal of respect for members of that committee: Robbie Murray, Skip Ash, Dean Esham and Charles Shelton. I look forward to their input and recommendations. I also believe that we should partnership with Dagsboro Police Department and Selbyville Police Department in the interim.
Public safety is top priority for our citizens. We all value our homes, our belongings and our lives; public safety is the responsibility of all who live in the town. A Neighborhood Watch program could be implemented, as well. Past Chief Dudley started the process, and the efforts dwindled for lack of participation. As with anything, it takes active citizens to improve the process!
Q. What do you hope to bring to the Town if elected?
A. Financial integrity and accountability are first and foremost. Without knowing the day-to-day expenses, it is difficult to make long-term goal planning. This is one of the reasons the current town council has not been able to make a decision on healthcare and pension plans.
In utilizing the Quickbooks program for all accounting, it should be very easy to print monthly and yearly profit and loss statements. For some reason, we have not been able to get accurate data for a number of years. I have extensive knowledge of the program and accounting practices, I have offered to assist with proper setup and developing go-forward plans, no matter if I am elected or not. Something needs to change to accurately reflect the accounting.
I would like to have community events to foster a sense of community. We need to bring our citizens together and get to know each other. To merely be individuals that share a ZIP code is not the small-town feel that most people want to experience. The Fall Festival is one idea. We could also partner with the Frankford Public Library and the Frankford volunteer fire department to provide public-safety days or other community events. Giving back to the community that you live in is a big part of my being.
Transparency of the town council is an area I would like to improve. The citizens in the town have very little say in what goes on with town council. I would like to see the committees revised and implemented; for example, Code Enforcement and Planning & Zoning.
There are many buildings in town that are in disrepair and abandoned. These building are unsafe for our first-responders and unsafe for children playing in the area. The infrastructure of the town (sidewalks, roads, water tower and plant) are all in need of repair. If we do not invest in these items and look at grants, we are going to face tax increases.
Revitalize the police department is an urgent matter, in light of Nate Hudson’s resignation. The Town has done very little since Dudley retired the end of December. The time to act is now, and that means more frequent meetings. You cannot operate with a once-a-month timeframe on all matters.
Hard work, dedication and diligence can move Frankford forward. I hope to be an active part of the process to represent the citizens of the town.
With some of the coldest air of the winter arriving today and expected to last through next Thursday, volunteer-organized and volunteer-run Code Purple locations are opening across the state to keep people who don’t have a home warm and safe.
Code Purple sites typically are located at houses of worship or community centers. When sub-freezing temperatures or storms make it difficult for anyone to be outside for extended periods, the sites provide safe and warm short-term housing and hot meals to individuals and families who are homeless. The National Weather Service said record-low temperatures for February are possible over the next several days, with wind gusts potentially exceeding 45 miles per hour and power outages possible. Snow is likely Saturday and wintry precipitation is possible again on Tuesday or Wednesday, the weather service said.
“The temperatures and wind chills expected in Delaware are potentially dangerous to anyone who might be outside for an extended period,” Gov. Jack Markell said. “That’s why I am grateful to all of the Code Purple locations in our state that can provide a safe place for people to sleep. During the next few days, I urge Delawareans who see people outside who don’t appear to have a place to go, to call 9-1-1 so police can help get them to a safe location.”
Since Code Purple sites use volunteers to manage operations, the activation and implementation vary by county and site. To be connected to Code Purple resources, call Delaware 2-1-1, or search for “Code Purple” on the Delaware 2-1-1 mobile app or on its website at www.delaware211.org.
While there is not a defined lead agency that officially activates Code Purple, there are several local champions and Code Purple sites that lead efforts to support people who are homeless in Sussex County. These include:
Eastern Sussex: Faith Methodist United Methodist Church supports the operation of Immanuel Emergency Shelter, 37439 Oyster House Road, Rehoboth Beach, from Monday through Friday throughout the winter.
Western Sussex: Code Purple has been declared beginning today through next Wednesday, Feb. 18. Call Nikki at 302-519-0024. Both locations will have slightly extended hours on Saturdays and Sundays. The sites are:
Stein Highway Church of God (for men), 425 E. Stein Highway, Seaford. Hours are 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. The church operates a day-care center from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Gateway Fellowship (for women and children), 8110 Cannon Road, Bridgeville. Hours are 8:30 p.m. to 7:45 a.m. The women are transported to Gateway after eating dinner at Stein Highway with the men. The women are brought back into Seaford at the ACE Center at 8 a.m. each day.
Many of the Code Purple sites often need more volunteers, and more donations of money, sleeping supplies and food. The list of needed items include: blankets, cots, sleeping bags, towels and wash cloths, hand wipes and sanitizers, feminine products, toothbrushes and toothpaste, disinfectant spray, hats, scarves, gloves, boots, long underwear, coats, hand or feet warmers, bottled water, pre-cooked or frozen meals, instant hot drinks, ready-to-eat food with easy-opening lids, and garbage bags.
“The services provided by volunteers at the Code Purple locations are a godsend to people who are homeless,” Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf said. “By providing a warm and safe sanctuary, the Code Purple sites not only provide for people’s basic needs, but they also give them hope. Until government and nonprofit partners can find transitional or permanent housing for all of the individuals and families who are homeless in our state, we are grateful for the critical service that the Code Purple locations are providing.”
For the second year in a row, Clear Space received recognition from BroadwayWorld.com for artistic achievements in 2014, garnering the top award in 20 out of 22 categories for which the company was nominated. The 20 awards included:
• Best Actor in a Musical (Professional), David Button (Princeton/Rod), “Avenue Q”
• Best Actor in a Play (Professional), Ryan Hagan (Ty Williamson), “Sordid Lives”
• Best Actress in a Musical (Professional), Erin Williams (Kate Monster/Lucy), “Avenue Q”
• Best Actress in a Play (Professional), Mary O’Neill (LaVonda DuPree), “Sordid Lives”
• Best Choreography (Professional), Shondelle Alessi-Graulich, “The Full Monty”
• Best Costume Design (Professional), David Button/Mary O’Neill, “The Full Monty”
• Best Director of a Musical (Professional), David Button, “The Full Monty”
• Best Director of a Play (Professional), David Button, “Sordid Lives”
• Best Ensemble in a Musical (Professional), “Avenue Q”
• Best Ensemble in a Play (Professional), “Sordid Lives”
• Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Professional), Peyton Lynch (Malcolm MacGregor), “The Full Monty”
• Best Featured Actor in a Play (Professional), David Warick, “Sordid Lives”
• Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Professional), Lorraine Steinhoff (Christmas Eve), “Avenue Q”
• Best Featured Actress in a Play (Professional), Valorie Jarrell (Dr. Eve Bolinger), “Sordid Lives”
• Best Lighting Design (Professional), Brendan Smith, “The Full Monty”
• Best Musical (Professional), “Avenue Q”
• Best Musical Director (Professional), Melanie Bradley, “Avenue Q”
• Best Play (Professional), “Sordid Lives”
• Best Professional Theater Company, Clear Space Theatre
• Best Set Design (Professional), Eddy Seger, “The Odd Couple (Female Version)”
Nominations were reader-submitted and after the nomination period ended, BroadwayWorld’s local editors proofed the list for eligibility and errors.
David Button, artistic director of Clear Space Theatre Company, said, “2014 was a groundbreaking season for CSTC, with new and edgy experiences. The artistic excellence of our actors and designers being recognized in any way is a privilege that is not only rewarding for them but to the company.”
The full listing of awards may be found at http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/2014-BroadwayWorld-Delaware-awards.
Clear Space Theatre begins its 11th season on Feb. 6 with a production of “Steel Magnolias.” For further information on Clear Space Theatre, including biographical information for the entire Clear Space staff and directors, visit
Bright colors splash inside Millville’s newest children’s learning center, despite the deceptively stoic brick exterior. Village Square Academy Learning Center just opened on Whites Neck Road, enrolling infants to 12 years.
Village Square Academy provides daylong childcare, from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., or just before and after school.
“It’s not a daycare at all. It’s a learning center. It’s gonna be structured, educational,” said owner Tecola Gibbs-Hernandez. “The best start is an early start. The earlier, the better prepared they are when they get to the schools,” she said.
That means kids can get used to a structured environment, learn rules of the school and adapt to different cultures. Plus, kids are learning social skills.
“They learn through each other,” verbalizing what they want, using good manners and, of course, making friends, she said.
Gibbs-Hernandez said she wanted to create a place “where parents will have the peace of mind that their children are in a safe and learning environment, where they can grow and be enriched with excellent quantity and quality care. My goal is to provide children with a rich environment where they feel safe to explore, initiate learning and feel free to express themselves.”
The center has one main room, but it’s split into smaller, contained sections for each age group. The walls are just tall enough to create a classroom, but let teachers peek over the sides.
Village Square uses the Creative Curriculum, with hands-on lessons, including books, movies, playtime, song and dance.
“Kids learn through play, so you gotta make it fun,” said Gibbs-Hernandez.
Although the children are separated by age, they aren’t necessarily separated by ability, so they still learn together in activities where teachers can monitor their comprehension.
“As an early childhood professional, I believe all children can learn and be successful,” said Gibbs-Hernandez, who has 35 years of experience in education. “No child left behind. I take that philosophy very seriously.”
This is her first businesses, but she said she hopes to open other locations, starting with Lewes. Village Square is rated under the Delaware Stars quality rating and improvement system. As a learning center, it will hire certified teachers, she said.
Snacks are served every morning and afternoon, and children attending Indian River School District schools can catch the bus from Village Square.
Family Fun Nights will be held monthly, with activities for kids and parents. There will also be summer camps and babysitting nights, to give parents a night off. Gibbs-Hernandez said she also hopes to offer yoga, CPR or Spanish classes for parents.
Children are the most important part, “but we want parents to get something out of this, as well,” said Gibbs-Hernandez.
Prospective clients can see Village Square for themselves at an open house on Saturday, Feb. 21, from noon to 4 p.m., with food, activities and tours of the facility.
Village Square Academy Learning Center is located at 30792 Whites Neck Road, in Millville. For more information, call (302) 539-5000.