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Articles on this Page
- 04/23/15--11:31: _Put something frien...
- 04/23/15--11:50: _Sons of Confederate...
- 04/23/15--13:18: _Customers are lovin...
- 04/23/15--13:54: _Boys and Girls Stat...
- 04/23/15--15:06: _Mayor shares the st...
- 04/23/15--15:14: _Teen got the ball r...
- 04/23/15--15:19: _County council memb...
- 04/23/15--15:20: _Bodenweiser gets pr...
- 04/23/15--15:22: _County P&Z commissi...
- 04/23/15--15:25: _A look at striping ...
- 04/23/15--15:29: _As Streetscape is c...
- 04/30/15--19:09: _Take it from the to...
- 04/30/15--19:30: _LSLL’s Challenger L...
- 04/30/15--19:37: _Lighthouse Christia...
- 04/30/15--19:42: _Unoccupied homes us...
- 04/30/15--20:32: _Karimali for Hair o...
- 04/30/15--20:36: _Millsboro parade to...
- 04/30/15--20:37: _South Bethany counc...
- 04/30/15--20:40: _Indian River School...
- 04/30/15--20:42: _Debate gives voters...
- 04/23/15--11:50: Sons of Confederate Veterans event set for April 25 in Georgetown
- 04/23/15--13:18: Customers are lovin’ Lovetti’s, the new pizza shop in Dagsboro
- 04/23/15--13:54: Boys and Girls State students take over County chambers
- 04/23/15--15:06: Mayor shares the state of the Town of Ocean View
- 04/23/15--15:14: Teen got the ball rolling for clean water
- 04/23/15--15:19: County council members get a state legislative update
- 04/23/15--15:20: Bodenweiser gets probation after pleading ‘no contest’
- 04/23/15--15:22: County P&Z commissioners visit Shore Democrats
- 04/23/15--15:25: A look at striping Streetscape
- 04/23/15--15:29: As Streetscape is completed, Bethany eyes parking lots
- 04/30/15--19:30: LSLL’s Challenger League is about much more than baseball
- 04/30/15--19:37: Lighthouse Christian hosting breakfast to raise funds
- 04/30/15--19:42: Unoccupied homes used as mail drops in terrorism-related scheme
- 04/30/15--20:32: Karimali for Hair offers new services in new Fenwick location
- 04/30/15--20:36: Millsboro parade to be a highlight of firefighter convention
- 04/30/15--20:37: South Bethany council looks at lattice, taxes
- 04/30/15--20:40: Indian River School District makes first step toward solar power
- 04/30/15--20:42: Debate gives voters a look at candidates
Native plants are the best of both worlds; they bring natural beauty and wildlife to the back yard, but they were also meant to live in coastal Delaware, so they are less likely to need extra water or nutrients.
Their popularity accounts for the 11th year of the Gardening for the Bays Native Plant Sale, on Saturday, May 2, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The nighttime cocktail party also returns on the eve of the sale.
Organizer Sally Boswell of event sponsor the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays called this the “one-stop-shop for going native in your garden,” hosted annually at James Farm Ecological Preserve on Cedar Neck Road in Ocean View.
“The big stores, for the most part — they have not gotten into native plant offerings in their nurseries. So it’s our small, local, independent nurseries that are leading the way in that,” said Boswell.
Five nurseries will sell thousands of flowers, shrubs, grasses and trees.
“Part of our objective is to introduce the people … to the nurseries who sell native plants,” Boswell said. “And nurseries become aware there’s a growing market in native plants.”
Local nurseries participating include East Coast Garden Center in Millsboro, Inland Bays Garden Center in Bethany Beach and Roots Landscaping & Garden Center in Selbyville.
Envirotech Environmental Consulting in Milton will bring water-loving plants for ponds and wetland areas. Another 50 varieties are coming from Environmental Concern, a non-profit from St. Michael’s, Md.
Hailing from the Baltimore area, Boswell had always marked her calendar with native plant sales, but she couldn’t find any in coastal Delaware.
“I just thought that was a real opportunity for us, in part because that’s about the time when, boy, the population really started to explode around here,” she said.
Many newcomers have come from the Piedmont area, which has a different climate, soils and rainfall, Boswell said.
All those people put “new landscaping in the watershed, so it seemed really important for the folks moving down here to learn about what grows well here.”
The Master Gardeners will also share their expertise on going native in the back yard.
Special workshops include Gardening for Butterflies by Ptery Iris of the Delaware Botanical Garden at 9:30 and 11 a.m. and Composting by Pamela White at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
James Farm itself is open all day, but the Sussex Bird Club will lead a warbler walk at 8 a.m. Dr. Dennis Bartow will lead a trail walk at 10:30 a.m.
“You never know what you’re gonna see when you’re out with Dennis,” said Boswell.
At various tables, participants from Delaware Nature Society will show how a garden can provide food, water and shelter for butterflies and other wildlife, while Livable Lawns will teach how to make bay-friendly back yards.
The Delaware Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators & Educators will have information on helping injured and abandoned animals.
“It’s just a time when animals are very visible. And people will find animals or see baby animals and wonder if they’re abandoned.” Boswell said. “We get calls a lot, ‘What do we do?’”
Rain barrels will be available for a $40 donation to the CIB. The ‘ready-to-be-installed’ rain barrels can be purchased beforehand at www.inlandbays.org.
People can also support the CIB by purchasing the annual gardening T-shirt or bee houses for the back yard, made by volunteer Dave Ritondo.
At the Children’s Tent, younger visitors have a community art project: painting a rain barrel together.
As always, Good Earth Market will sell breakfast treats, coffee, snacks, sandwiches and organic grilled hotdogs.
“We try to bring back all the things that people enjoy,” Boswell said.
That includes local beekeeper James Carfagno and his glass-encased beehive.
“Everybody loves standing in front of that little hive,” Boswell added.
Grab a cocktail
Supporters and gardening aficionados can start the celebration a night early at the second annual Gardening for the Bays Cocktail Party on Friday, May 1. Under the party tent at James Farm, guests can enjoy “bay-centric” food and beer tastings, early sale plants from the Inland Bays Garden Center and a silent auction of garden items, from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets cost $30 beforehand or $40 at the door. All proceeds support CIB projects.
The non-profit CIB formed in 1994 to promote the wise use and enhancement of the Inland Bays Watershed. CIB partners with other agencies for public outreach, education, restoration projects, scientific inquiry and more.
In 2007, a 12-foot-tall and 16-foot-wide granite memorial rose from the ground upon its unveiling at the Marvel Museum in Georgetown. The dedication of this monument was the fulfillment of the Delaware Grays Camp #2068, Sons of Confederate Veterans, pledge to honor those Delawareans who served the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.
On Saturday, April 25, ceremonies will take place on the grounds of the museum as part of an annual remembrance of their service. From noon until 3 p.m., those in attendance will be able to enjoy guest speakers, a relic table, silent auction and refreshments. The event is free of charge, and the public is being invited to join in the festivities.
A special feature will be adding the names of two Confederate soldiers to the monument. As a result of ongoing research, the SCV learned that Pvt. Thomas R. Blandy of Newark served with the 18th Virginia Infantry and Pvt. Alexander Wooters, also from Delaware, was a member of the 1st Maryland Cavalry.
A prayer will be offered before the activities begin, followed by a salute to the U.S. and Confederate flags. Delaware Grays Camp #2068 Cmdr. Jeffrey Plummer will speak about the two soldiers whose names will be added to the monument. A flag-raising and rifle salute will also take place.
The principal speaker at Saturday’s gathering will be Ben Jones, whom many will remember in the role of “Cooter Davenport” on the 1980s television show “Dukes of Hazzard.” Jones has had a long career as an actor, playwright and essayist. He also served for four years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s 4th District, 1989 to 1993.
Last year, Susan Hathaway was the guest speaker and gave a rousing talk about her involvement as a “Virginia flagger.” All four of her great-great-grandfathers fought for the South, and she actively promotes display of the Confederate flag. She was inspired by the valor of Delaware Confederates who had to travel South under threat of arrest and imprisonment.
The previous year, Shannon Pritchard spoke about her book “Collecting the Confederacy.” She wrote about artifacts and antiques from the “War Between the States.”
The annual remembrance will take place at the site of the monument on the grounds of the Marvel Museum. This is also the location of the Georgetown Historical Society, at 510 South Bedford Street.
As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s conclusion, it is important to understand the role that Delawareans played in the attempt on the part of Southern states to secede from the Union and create a separate nation, the Confederate States of America. The SCV’s annual remembrance will serve to enlighten the public about the driving forces behind these ill-fated efforts.
For further information, contact Jeff Plummer at (302) 381-0785 or email him at email@example.com.
Bethany Beach resident Thomas J. Ryan’s latest book is “Spies, Scouts & Secrets in the Gettysburg Campaign” (May 2015). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website www.tomryan-civilwar.com.
After taking over the Dagsboro-area business formerly known as Goodfella’s, Lovetti’s Pizza owner Brian Lovett knew that it might take some time to establish a reputation for his new venture. But he also knew that the best way to do that was simple: good food and good service. And that’s exactly what he set out to do.
“I take a lot of pride in my food,” said Lovett. “It’s like mom and dad are making the food.”
While he’s just recently set up shop near Dagsboro, Lovett has been in the restaurant industry throughout his life, getting his knowledge of Italian cuisine by training with chefs in Philadelphia, where he’s originally from. That knowledge includes all types of pizza, but Lovetti’s offers up much more.
“I do more than just pizza,” he said. “I make my own chicken wings, mozzarella sticks… I do everything from scratch. That’s the major difference here.”
Other menu favorites include a daily soup, homemade lasagna, fresh eggplant dishes, and even corned-beef Reubens and hot pastrami sandwiches. With the extensive menu, customers are starting to take notice.
“They’re so happy that I’m here now,” Lovett said. “I’m getting all sorts of positive feedback.”
Two of those happy customers are local pro skimboarders Tom and Dave Bracht, who frequent their new favorite restaurant despite having to deal with one of the more common dietary restrictions.
“Brian makes the best supreme pizza I’ve ever eaten,” said Tom Bracht. “His attention to detail when it comes to food is second to none. Dave loves Italian food, but he’s lactose intolerant, Brian is well aware of all the food allergies and takes good care of us every time we order.”
But the Bracht brothers aren’t the only patrons with special requests that Lovett caters to. No matter what the situation, he said, he’ll do his best to deliver.
“If someone has issues regarding certain products, then I try to cater to them,” he said. “We have a couple people that are strictly vegan that come in, so I’ll make them a vegetarian pizza.”
Lovett also offers up slices and pies of all the traditional pizza varieties, and once some different local seafood comes in season, he’ll be serving up a seafood special. But the marquee menu item has to be his stuffed gourmet pizza.
“I make these delicious stuffed gourmet pizzas that no one [else] makes,” Lovett said. “Two tiers, two single pizzas in between, Philly cheesesteak, caramelized onions, mushrooms, different things.”
Once summer rolls around, the seafood pizza won’t be the only new item on the menu, as he’ll continue his fresh, local trend by whipping up some new salads using the produce from a farm in Georgetown.
“I make a delicious strawberry salad during the summer,” he said. “When someone asks for a fresh tomato and basil pie, I go out and pick the basil right off the plant.”
It’s that kind of pride that Lovett puts into his work that makes the difference, he said.
“That’s what makes it different,” he said. “Fresh, local, homemade.”
Lovetti’s is located at 30506 Vines Creek Road, east of Dagsboro, and is open seven days a week. For more information, call the shop at (302) 927-0259, or check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Lovettis-Pizza-and-Subs.
About 40 high school juniors filled the Sussex County Council chambers last Thursday, April 16. They were not in chambers to request a grant or make public comment on a proposed ordinance, but rather as representatives of Girls and Boys State.
Boys and Girls State are programs through the American Legion, offering high school juniors the opportunity to become part of the operation of local, county and state government.
“The national organization requires them to be a member of the junior class, becoming seniors in the fall,” explained Lyman Brenner, chairman of Delaware Boys State. “The state of Delaware has added, too, that they must be in the upper third of their class academically.”
Boys State has existed in Delaware since 1946, and those who wish to participate may be recommended from their school, previous Boys and Girls State participants, American Legion posts or military service academy nominees.
According to their website, “Boys State participants learn the rights, privileges and responsibilities of franchised citizens. The training is objective and centers on the structure of city, county and state governments. Operated by students elected to various offices, Boys State activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choruses and recreational programs.”
As part of the program, Boys and Girls State participants visited Sussex County Council to tour the county administrative offices and serve as council members during a mock council meeting.
“For a guy who went through the same process back in the ’90s, when I was in high school — literally sat in this building and went through Boys State — it’s very enjoyable,” said County Administrator Todd Lawson. “I kind of feel this is my way to give back to the folks who could potentially hold leadership positions in the future. These are our men and women of the future. It’s a neat exercise.”
During the mock council session, students rotated through various topics, so that each was able to take a turn sitting on the dais. Students portrayed council members, as well as the County attorney, finance director and clerk.
“Public service, I think, is a great thing. As you go on through your life… it’s always good to participate in your local community and give back. I think that’s an obligation that we all have,” said Council President Michael Vincent, adding jokingly, “All I ask is whoever is going to be the president, that you don’t break my gavel.”
Students were given presentations from county officials that they would need to discuss and then vote on.
Lawson presented students with the County’s draft vendor and food truck ordinance. The proposed ordinance would create a streamlined process to allow vendors to operate on property zoned as commercial without having to go through the traditional process of applying for a special-use exception before the Board of Adjustment.
“Are these permits, once received, one-time permits or do you have to constantly get them reviewed after a few years?” asked Indian River High School junior John Douds, who served as county solicitor during the exercise.
Lawson said the current intent is to have those applying for the permit to go through the process once.
“They will not expire unless the location or the activity changes,” responded Lawson.
“Will someone check that everything is being done lawfully?” Douds asked.
Lawson said that, through the permitting process, the County will know the location of the activity and will be able to check up on their activity.
Bryce Molnar of Sussex Central High School, serving as the exercise’s finance director, asked if the program would be fiscally self-sufficient.
Lawson said it would not but noted that dealing with these types of permits would only be one duty of a County staffer.
The mock council voted 7-1, to approve vending, including food and vending related to summer activities. Chris Mulberry of Cape Henlopen High School, serving as council president, was opposed.
The mock council voted unanimously that the vendor should be required to provide proof of a valid business license and health permit. The mock council approved the overall vendor ordinance with a 6-2 vote.
Other issues discussed included the county’s dog-control contract, a conditional-use application from Blue Hen Organics and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed implementation plan.
“With these young people, we don’t have to do a whole lot of teaching. They get there, they figure it out on their own, which impresses me. It gives me my fix of teaching for the year,” said Lyman, who previously taught American history and American government.
Boys State will he held June 14 to June 18 at Wesley College, where students will have the opportunity to see how the state’s government works.
“It’s a hands-on program,” said Lyman. ‘We spend Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday mornings in Legislative Hall, in both the House and Senate chambers, and we get to use the governor’s office. The young men have to find things on their own that deal with State issues and write proposed legislative bills for either the house or senate.”
The students will be divided into parties, as well as the legislative branches.
“Those who are in the House, they will debate the House-proposed bills, and either amend, approve or defeat them,” said Brenner. “We’ve had bills proposed by both the boys and girls that members of the House and Senate have latched onto, and have become laws.”
Students will also get to shadow their counterparts — be it the governor, state senators or state representatives.
“They get to see the inner workings of the political scene, as well as the actual legislative process,” he said. “They begin to understand how our government works and how they, as individuals, work to influence how the state itself is governed and what types of laws and things they can work toward.”
Lyman noted that Boys State alumni include state Sen. Brian Townsend and former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.
“The young men from Delaware — we pick two each year to go to Boys Nation. In the last 10 years, we’ve had two students come back with perfect evaluations, and they were both from Sussex County,” said Lyman. “Our young men are articulate, knowledgeable, and they do the state of Delaware proud.”
Lawson said the students who visited the County offices were “quite impressive” and that he looks forward to the event every year.
“This particular group — they’re in this group because they like civics, they like government, they like leadership roles, they like being decision makers,” he said. “It’s neat for them to come in and see how we do what we do. Some days, this room is packed because of the decisions that are made here. It’s nice to see someone that has an interest in the role we play in everyone’s day-to-day life.”
Ocean View is a small, quaint town. This is a natural progression of the years and population growth. The fact that it is a nice place to live, and increasingly so in the last three years, is because elected officials have worked hard to ensure that the Town remains fiscally responsible, that we listen to what the residents want but we make our decisions based on what is best for the long-term good of the Town and avoid kneejerk reactions to momentarily hot topics.
We have tried to make it more business-friendly, but small businesses — ones that fit into the pattern of the town and don’t overwhelm it.
The entire town council plays a role in these actions and decisions, but as mayor, I have taken the lead in making sure that we focus on the priorities and move forward on those priorities. The first thing I did after being sworn into office was to reach out to all of the HOAs in the town and offer to meet with them and listen to what they had to say about their communities and the relationship of those communities with the Town. The words “drainage,” “speeding” and “sidewalks” were heard early and often.
It has been one year since I assumed the office of mayor of Ocean View, and it has been a busy year.
In general, Ocean View is in good financial shape, and this year’s budget reflects the sensible and realistic outlook of the Town staff and the town council. The town council approved the staff recently joining the State program for health benefits and it has been a disjointed year due to different expiration and renewal dates, which forced duplicative deductibles onto the staff.
To compensate for this, understanding that it was a transitive period, the council agreed to fund the program to a higher level, but we are now awaiting answers from the State as they deal with their healthcare funding shortfall. We’ll see what the future brings on this subject.
The County Council created the 2015 Economic Development & Infrastructure Grant, and Ocean View received $10,000 of that grant.
We still stand under the sword of Damocles in regards to whether or not the State will slash the Municipal Street Aid. If they do, that will be a substantial increased cost to Ocean View.
The Town continues to financially support the Millville Volunteer Fire Company which is a fair trade for the wonderful service they provide to our community.
The contentious issue of speeding on Woodland Avenue was brought to the forefront and dealt with after 10 years of kicking the can down the road. Similarly, I have gotten directly involved in the issue of drainage and the difficulty of obtaining easements from those homeowners involved, and we are making progress on this topic.
We have had to deal with the poor results of resurfacing of certain streets and are talking with the paving contractor and town engineer on how best to resolve the issue.
Looking forward, the continuing issues will be: (1) trying to maintain health care benefits for Town employees at prices both the Town and the employees can cope with; (2) drainage will remain a priority for the next few years and; (3) continuing to comply with the ADA requirements for sidewalks.
I thank outgoing council member Robert Lawless for his six years of fine dedicated service to the Town and welcome his replacement, Carol Bodine. We have an excellent town council and Town staff, and I look forward to working with them in the next year as we continue to look out for the best interests of the citizens of Ocean View.
Emma Rider has collected 100,000 pairs of shoes in five years. But those are just the tips of the laces that tie her tale together.
At 18, Rider has a knack for transforming old kicks into clean water. She explained the basics to the Lord Baltimore Lioness Club on April 16.
“One billion people lack access to safe water,” Rider said.
Through WaterStep, ordinary people can help just by donating their old footwear.
Shoes are sold to an exporter, and profits pay for clean-water programs, including public education, sanitation systems, water treatment and more.
“The reality for many people in the developing world is a 5- to 6-mile trek [to fresh water],” Rider said.
If a gallon of water weighs about 8 pounds, a woman or child will haul more than 40 pounds on her head or hip, just for 5 gallons.
A lifetime of that can cause severe damage to the skeletal structure.
But Rider wants to ease that burden.
Besides working on her fifth tractor-trailer load of used shoes, Rider is collecting cash donations to buy WaterBalls for those women.
WaterBalls hold at least 12 gallons, rolling easily as bright blue wheelbarrows over the terrain.
With a Lioness donation, the Delmarva Peninsula is close to funding 50 WaterBalls, which cost $200 apiece.
“Clean, safe water is at our fingertips,” said Rider, a Sussex Technical High School senior and JROTC battalion commander who plans to attend North Carolina State University.
At 13, Rider was on a Kentucky-based mission trip when she first learned about WaterStep, which had been collecting in the Louisville area for a long time. But why not collect on Delmarva, too?
Rider set a goal of collecting 4,000 pairs of shoes, to pay for one chlorination system. She sent 9,000 pairs to WaterStep that first year.
At a Kenyan orphanage, Rider saw the product of her labor firsthand. WaterStep invited her to a project trip to install water filters.
Originally, her brother was supposed to teach several villagers, but when he got sick at the last minute, WaterStep turned to Rider to teach them. In a country where a man’s perspective is often trusted over a woman’s, Rider was nonetheless a success.
“They just soaked up every piece of information that they could have … and they were praising God with every new thing they learned,” Rider said.
During announcements at the local church later that week, one woman proudly demonstrated for the whole congregation how to properly wash one’s hands.
The filtration systems can filter 10,000 gallons of water a day, using a handful of salt and a car battery, Rider said.
“It fits into a backpack, a small suitcase,” said Rider’s mother, Lori Ockels. “That’s the beauty of it. It can be backpacked into the Congo.”
As a bonus, chlorine is created as a filtration byproduct, which is used to sanitize the WaterBalls.
WaterStep’s focus is sustainability. Rather than dig new wells, villages get well repairs and chlorination filters.
“There are millions of wells around the world that aren’t being used because the hand pumps are broken, and no one knows how to fix it,” Rider said.
WaterStep also teaches people to run and repair their own systems, using as many locally-bought materials as possible. That shows clean water isn’t just “magic.” Plus, they create paying jobs for repair workers.
“Teaching them to fish,” one Lioness said, invoking the proverb about teaching valuable life-sustaining skills.
WaterStep trains a group of villagers, who then teach their neighbors and the children good health and hygiene.
Rider earned a national Jefferson Award for her volunteerism, ever inspired by the Bible verse Timothy 4:12, which Rider said equates roughly to, “Don’t let anyone look down on you for your youth, but be an example to the believers.”
Rider’s mother a watched proudly from the audience as her daughter made her presentation to the Lioness group.
“My husband and I have become very much part of the project,” Ockels said. “I hope that our communities continue to contribute. … It’s to show Emma, as well as WaterStep, this is a message that needs to be passed on. It is a problem that is solvable.”
Rider has wrangled shoe collections in seven states.
Besides donations, the family needs more “shoe wranglers” to deliver shoes from the local drop-off locations to the family farms.
Locals can donate shoes, which should be gently worn and in usable condition. The work keeps shoes on people’s feet and out of the landfill.
Several local businesses collect WaterStep shoes on a regular basis: Del-One, 30650 DuPont Boulevard in Dagsboro; Curves at 29 Atlantic Avenue in Ocean View; and Long & Foster Real Estate, 33298 S. Coastal Highway in South Bethany.
A correction to our April 17 story: Emma Rider herself has only visited Kenya with the group, although WaterStep has programs in Kenya, India, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Costa Rica.
The Sussex County Council received a legislative update from Hal Godwin, deputy county administrator, at this week’s county council meeting.
Godwin spoke to the council about House Bill 85, which would amend Title 30 of the Delaware Code relating to State Taxes — allowing tax intercept programs to be used to collect delinquent taxes.
“This bill has been introduced, and successfully and unanimously passed the House of Representatives three times. It’s never gotten out of committee in the Senate on those three occasions.”
Godwin said the school districts would be the “big winners” from the bill, if it is passed.
“Of all the tax dollars that are delinquent, 80 percent go to the schools. Only 20 percent come to us,” he said. “This is much more about properly funding our school districts than it is anything else.”
HB 85 states that the five-year school tax in arrears for all three counties equals $32,366,986.44. The bill breaks out the arrears for each county in the state, as well as each school district. For instance, there is $7,498,805.25 due in Sussex County, of which $2,437,659.84 is due to the Indian River School District.
“I think this will make it much more obvious to legislators in the Senate that this is an urgent need that really needs to be addressed,” said Godwin.
Tax interceptor programs have been successful in collecting child support, he noted.
“It’s a very valuable tool. Really all it does is it says, if you have a state income tax refund or any other tax coming back to you from the State of Delaware, and you have this outstanding tax debt, they will take that refund and put it against the tax debt.
“They’re not taking anything from you that you’ve already earned — it’s just your tax refund. I don’t think it has a major impact on the average citizen, but it does help to make some folks responsible who haven’t found it convenient to do so in the past.”
Godwin said the County’s collection department has been very successful in collecting back taxes over the last few years.
“This would be another tool for them to bring in more of the delinquent dollars.”
Councilman Rob Arlett asked if the County was also using foreclosure in order to collect back taxes.
“The County has been very aggressive in the last few years with collection of taxes,” said County Attorney J. Everett Moore Jr. “We’ve taken a lot of properties to tax sale, and we’ve been able to gain a substantial amount of funds.
“But there’s a large percentage of old mobile homes that are on properties, that if you went through that process, it would cost a lot more than the amount that you would get back. There’re also issues concerning abandonment of the homes, getting the titles back… It’s a difficult issue, but every little bit helps.”
Also discussed this week was Senate Bill 5, which affirmatively authorizes preexisting common interest communities (HOAs) and approved common interest communities to comply with any or all of the provisions of the Delaware Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act (DUCIOA) with which they are not already required to comply.
He noted that SB 5 is different from the 207-page DUCIOA.
“Which means an HOA that was built in the 1960s would have to live by these rules, and I’m not sure that’s going to fit when you think about how some of the HOAs that we have in this county alone — we have some HOAs that have some pretty primitive … zero rules or policies — it does create some problems,” said Godwin.
He noted that the Attorney General’s Office has been ordered by the governor and the General Assembly to develop “some processes and some remedies” for many of the HOA problems throughout the state, and has set up an advisory committee. Godwin currently sits on the committee, in place of Council President Michael Vincent.
Godwin said he would like Moore to review the bill more closely and potentially comment on how it could impact county residents.
“I believe, from my layman’s eyes, what I see in here is an assemblage of all the different laws and policies throughout the state that have ever been used to try and organize and give some structure to HOAs and common interest communities,” he said, adding that the bill “might impose an undue financial burden on some of the folks that are already living in those communities.”
The responsibilities may include stormwater management, paving of the streets, sidewalks and streetlights.
“It can be quite a list of infrastructure that needs to be maintained by the owners,” said Godwin. “It’s a difficult animal to manage, but it’s the way things have been managed within the state of Delaware for many, many, many years.”
Moore said the impetus for the bill was that there were many subdivisions that were unable to maintain streets, roads and other amenities.
“Part of the law is very complex,” said Moore. “There’s a very special formula how you calculate the dues — so you project out how much it’s going to cost to do certain things in the subdivision. So, if you’re a developer and you set up a subdivision, there are guidelines and laws on how you set up the dues, set up the association.
“I would be concerned trying to retrofit the old subdivision into there. I don’t know how that could work.”
Moore said he would have attorney James Sharp of Moore & Rutt, who is the firm’s expert on DUCIOA, meet with Godwin regarding the bill.
Godwin said the bill was introduced at the end of March and is currently in the Housing & Community Affairs Committee.
Senate Bill 54, relating to right-to-work zones and gross receipts tax, was also discussed before council.
The act would allow the director of the Delaware Economics Development Office, currently Alan Levin, to create right-to-work zones as part of its inducements to bring new businesses to Delaware and requires those zones to be offered for manufacturing businesses hiring at least 20 employees. It also exempts those manufacturing businesses from their gross receipts taxes for their first five years.
“This bill, for me, represents quite a significant change in our legislature,” said Godwin. “Right-to-work issues have never been embraced in Delaware that I can remember.”
Godwin said the bill, introduced in April and currently is in committee, is aimed at improving the economy.
Through right-to-work, a person would not be required to be a member of a labor union or to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with your employment,” he explained. “Of course, the labor unions don’t like this… However, this action has been very successful in other counties, mostly in mid-south of this country.”
Godwin noted that HB 86 allows counties and municipalities to elect not to be subject to the State’s Public Employment Relations Act.
HB 87 would allow each municipality and each county to create right-to-work zones. Both bills which were introduced last week.
“If you decided to designate all AR-1 zoning land use to be right-to-work zones, you could do that,” he said. “You could arbitrarily say everything east of Route 113 is a right-to-work zone. This legislation, if it’s passed, would allow you to do that.
“I’m not sure what benefit that would be for this council.”
Godwin said he would be watching the three bills very carefully.
At the meeting, the County Council also recognized retiring County employee C. Shane Abbott, who has worked for Sussex County for 31 years.
“We wish you the very best in your next chapter, Shane,” said County Administrator Todd Lawson.
“We do appreciate all you do for the county, thank you very much,” said Vincent. “You are a valued employee — we hate to see you leave.”
Planning & Zoning Director Lawrence Lank said Abbott has worked as a zoning inspector, planning technician and assistant director.
“I thought he might be director someday… He’s excellent. He’s been a very good friend and very dependable.”
“It has been enjoyable. I’ve learned a lot from him and I respect him very much,” said Abbott of Vincent.
The County Council will not meet on April 28. The next council meeting will be held Tuesday, May 5, at 10 a.m.
Former state senate candidate Eric Bodenweiser, 56, of Georgetown will not be serving jail time after pleading “no contest” in Sussex County Superior Court on March 18 to two counts of third-degree unlawful sexual contact.
Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley sentenced Bodenweiser to one year of supervised probation, and he must register as a Tier I sex offender.
According to the Delaware State Police, Tier I offenders are classified as “low-risk,” and must register for 15 years and verify their information once a year.
Additionally, “Tier I offenders may petition Superior Court for relief from designation as a sex offender after 10 years, if the offender has successfully completed a state-approved sex-offender treatment program and has not been convicted of any crime, other than a motor vehicle offense, during such time.”
Bodenweiser’s sentencing was originally scheduled to take place May 22, in Sussex County Superior Court.
In June 2014, a mistrial was declared in the case following nearly two weeks of testimony. The crimes allegedly took place in October 1987 and August 1990 — starting, the alleged victim said, when he was 10 years old.
In 2012, while he was campaigning as a candidate for the Delaware state senate, a Sussex County grand jury indicted Bodenweiser on 113 total counts, including 39 counts of Unlawful Sexual Intercourse First Degree and 74 counts of Unlawful Sexual Contact Second Degree. Those charges were eventually reduced to 14 total counts, and for the jury deliberations, the charges were reduced again.
In the end, the jury had been tasked with deciding if Bodenweiser was innocent or guilty of 10 counts of first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse and five counts of second-degree unlawful sexual contact. The jury had the option of convicting Bodenweiser on third-degree unlawful sexual intercourse charges instead of first-degree. That lesser charge carries a two- to 25-year jail sentence, instead of 20-years-to-life.
“I’m glad that this has finally come to an end and I can finally move forward and get on with my life,” said the victim in March following the announcement of the plea deal.
The Shore Democrats last week got some inside information as to how the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission conducts business.
P&Z Chairman Bob Wheatley, along with Bethany Beach resident and District 4 Commissioner Rodney Smith, spoke to an assembled group of members, explaining that P&Z is a five-person commission, where no more than two members can come from any one district.
The Planning & Zoning Commission deals with changes of zoning, conditional uses and subdivisions.
“Everything we do is governed by the planning and zoning ordinance,” said Wheatley. “We often have to act on things that we may not like, but our job as planning and zoning commissioners is to measure the application against the ordinance. Whatever the ordinance says goes.”
Wheatley, who has served on the commission for 20 years, said the P&Z makes recommendations to Sussex County Council, though the council is not bound to follow those recommendations.
“And sometimes they don’t,” he said.
Smith, who grew up in Georgetown, has served on the commission since 2004. His father had also served on the commission. Smith said one of the things he has seen in his tenure is misunderstanding or general apathy from the public regarding planning and zoning matters.
“They do themselves a disservice by not getting involved,” he said.
Smith recommended that the public attend some of the meetings to understand what the commission does, as it could be beneficial to them later on.
“Then, if you have an issue that directly affects you and your property rights or your quality of life, you’ll be better prepared when you come in,” he explained.
Wheatley said the commission often hears that ‘their comments don’t make a difference.’
“They do make a difference,” he emphasized.
Wheatley said public comments will make the most difference when the county land-use plan revision process starts.
“That’s where you can affect policy, because that’s how that policy is being created. I can tell you, having been through it three times previously, what people say at those meetings does get heard and does get incorporated into the plan.”
He also noted that citizens may lobby their county council representative regarding an issue of concern.
Wheatley said the hiring of P&Z manager Janelle Cornwell earlier this year will help coordinate between departments within the County and between the County and State.
One attendee asked if a moratorium could be imposed for construction — noting specifically that Route 54 is a high-growth area — until services are increased in those more rural areas.
“Is there such a thing as a moratorium on what you can build and when to build?” she asked.
“There is such a thing,” responded Wheatley. “It’s certainly a possibility, but I would say it’s not a probability. I don’t think there would be much support for a moratorium.”
Wheatley said what could be a better solution would to be better at planning improvements.
Smith noted that, when Bayside was developed on Route 54, the road improvements were paid for by the Freeman Companies and then deeded to the State. He said the same was true for the traffic circle in Millville by the Sea.
“In the case of Bayside, it amounted to about $14 million of improvements on the property,” said Wheatley of the Delaware Department of Transportation’s improvement requirements.
Wheatley and Smith emphasized that those who are concerned about what is going on in the county should attend meetings, become more informed and involved.
The next Shore Democrats meeting will be Wednesday, May 20.
Newly constructed roads and sidewalks need hours, if not days, to set properly. But after that, the painted white lines can dry in just three minutes, noted road workers putting the finishing touches on Bethany Beach’s Streetscape project on April 17.
Yet, that high speed also needs high heat.
Ben Villegas used a blowtorch to heat a handcart of melted white thermoplastic to about 400 degrees. That’s much hotter than regular asphalt, and it’s not something one wants to touch.
“You only do it a couple times,” Brett Johns said ruefully. “Then you learn your lesson.”
They had already completed the striping for the parking spaces and were creating “pavement markings,” including the arrows and text for the Garfield Parkway turn lanes.
Although he could draw the arrows free-hand, Mark Johns opted to stencil a quick outline with spray paint, to ensure uniformity on identical arrows so closely placed on the roadway.
Next, Villegas pushed a heavy metal handcart over the outline, filling in the blanks with heavy white stripes. Although boxy, the cart nonetheless allowed him to see straight down, to accurately line everything up.
A cascade of granulated glass falls over the freshly laid thermoplastic, as fine as sand. Like heavy-duty glitter, the glass will shine when illuminated by car headlights.
Brett Johns swept the pavement clean for the next layer.
Because striping demands forecasts of 50 degrees or above, the four-man crew finished their work on a warm, sunny Friday afternoon.
Town Manager Cliff Graviet announced on April 17 that the long-planned and long-running Streetscape project in Bethany Beach was officially complete — except for a few “punchlist” items.
Graviet told the council at their monthly meeting that construction had wound up on Thursday, April 16, around 8 p.m., with the reopening of the Garfield Parkway “horseshoe” at the beach end and Atlantic Avenue southbound reopened.
“It is complete after many, many years. And we hope the community appreciates it and that the pain was not too great for the business community,” he said.
But the changes to downtown Bethany may not stop there, as Graviet announced that the Town was considering the purchase of two commercial lots, at 204 and 206 Garfield Parkway, that would be used for municipal parking.
The lots, located between the PNC Bank parking lot and the Blue Crab and related restaurant businesses in the building adjacent to town hall, have been used as municipal parking since 2011, but as part of a revenue-sharing agreement between the Town and the existing owner.
Under the proposed sale agreement, the Town would acquire both lots, which could create as many as 34 parking spaces there once paved and striped. As currently laid out with parking bumpers and a gravel surface, the lots offer 32 spaces — offsetting the loss of 30 parking spaces under the Streetscape reconfiguration. It is also used as overflow and parking for the weekly farmers’ market held from late spring until early fall.
Graviet noted that the Town has discussed the possible purchase of the lots for four years, with the owner requesting $2.1 million as a selling price.
“The Town has never engaged in serious discussion past that point,” he said, adding that the owner had contacted the Town again recently and advised them that he hoped to sell the lots as quickly as possible.
With town council executive sessions in December and March and a review of appraisals of the property, the Town made an offer of $1.25 million, which the owner, Graviet said, had tentatively accepted, subject to council approval.
Leading up to such a vote, the Town has scheduled a special meeting for Friday, May 1, at 7 p.m. at town hall to receive public comment on the issue and a related proposal to again increase its parking rates by 25 cents per hour, in a move aimed at paying for the acquisition. A second meeting, on May 7 at 10 a.m. at town hall, will be for council discussion and a possible vote on both issues.
Graviet said he was recommending to the council a four-year payment schedule, with $350,000 due to be paid by the Town within 90 days of settlement, using funds from $384,000 in revenue collected in excess of the budgeted figure in the 2015-fiscal-year budget. The remaining amount would be paid in payments of $225,000 each over the four years.
Those payments would be made largely from the proposed increase in parking rates, Graviet said, which would take the Town’s parking rate from the $1.75 per hour approved by the council in March as part of the 2016-fiscal-year budget to $2 per hour — a total increase of 50 cents per hour from the $1.50 per hour rate the Town charged in 2014.
“At that time,” Graviet noted of the March vote to increase the rate to $1.75, “the possible purchase was not something the council was seriously considering, so the additional increase was not included in the proposed $1.75 rate approved in the budget.”
Graviet said the increase to $2 would bring in about $195,000 per year, along with an additional $30,000 in revenue from parking fees related to those lots themselves.
He noted that the issues of the parking rate increase and purchase of the property would be voted upon separately. He also emphasized that the increase to the parking rate of $2 per hour would put the Town’s rates in line with those in Rehoboth Beach, which recently raised its rate to that same amount.
Graviet further called the proposed parking rate increase something that would be used “only as the means for purchasing a valuable piece of real estate in Bethany Beach.” The lots are the only remaining undeveloped commercially-zoned parcels in the town east of Route 1.
More than 20 years have passed since the county chorus concert they can recall. But a group of Sussex County teachers decided to start up the music again, forming the 2015 Sussex County Junior Honor Choir, which performed for one grand night, on April 1.
The project began last summer, with a group of teachers lamenting the lack of a choral equivalent to the county band.
“Do you want to just do it? Who says we can’t do it?” Laura Day, Georgetown Middle School choral and band teacher, recalled the group asking.
According to anecdote, the last junior concert was in 1986. A current chorus teacher remembers senior chorus in 1993.
“The only thing chorus has is All-State Chorus, but it’s very selective,” said Eric Tsavdar, Selbyville Middle School chorus director. “It gives the opportunity for students who maybe aren’t All-State level singers yet to kind of break out of their school choir and sing with a more [advanced] group.”
High schools will be invited to participate next year, and auditions will be added in future.
This year, middle-schoolers were hand-selected based on behavior, enthusiasm and willingness to learn new music.
About 65 students came from Selbyville Middle School, Millsboro Middle School, Georgetown Middle School and Sussex Academy, as well as Beacon, Mariner, Seaford and Woodbridge middle schools.
“These are the top kids in the county. … They’re passionate about every note that comes out of their mouth,” Day said.
“It’s wonderful for kids — particularly in smaller schools — to be part of something bigger … and bring back that joy to their home schools,” guest director Jane Grudzina said.
After 40 years of teaching, with 15 years prepping All-State choirs, this was Grudzina’s first stint as a guest conductor. Their regular teachers prepped the students, but the guest conductor “pulled every measure apart,” giving students a richer understanding. They learned more challenging music — for instance, rolling their voices on the finale, “The Storm is Passing Over.”
“It’s not [just] rain — it’s things that enter your life that upset you,” Grudzina said of the theme of the song. “So when they sang that … I think it really spoke to a lot of their hearts and minds.”
Grudzina used humor to get young singers out of their shells, including bantering with the boys, showing them “it’s not sissy to sing.”
She reminded them they’re a team, and their voices support each other.
It could be nerve-wracking to face a new director, music and students. But by the final rehearsal, “I can see it on their faces they really enjoy it,” Day said. “Today they sound much more confident. … They had more faith in themselves.”
After the standing ovation, Grudzina saw many proud parents.
“Last night, I think it was far beyond what anyone thought was going to be,” Grudzina said after the concert. “The parents were just like, ‘Oh, my gosh.’”
“It was great fun. I kind of miss it already,” Grudzina said the next morning. “It was a lot — a lot — of work [for everyone], but nothing comes easy if it’s good.”
She credited the teachers for volunteering to create a successful festival. Day thanked everyone who made the concert possible, including principals, parents, administrators and custodians. Melanie Bradley was the piano accompanist. The Sussex County Music Educators Association organized the honors program.
“Education is so very important to feed the minds — but the arts feed the heart and soul,” Grudzina said. “Where words fail, music speaks.”
After their son Aiden had played in it for years, a spring without the Challenger Baseball League just wasn’t an option for Kevan and Megan Browne when they moved to the area.
But after spending their first official baseball season in Sussex County traveling back and forth to Maryland, accounting for more than five hours of drive time every Saturday, the Brownes are bringing the league — designed for special needs players ages 5 to 18 — to Delaware.
“He would start asking like Wednesday, and at the time, gas was like 4 bucks a gallon,” explained Kevan Browne of how important the league became to his son. “It was five hours in the car and 100 bucks in gas for an hour-and-a-half baseball game, but he loved it.”
While the league is, of course, designed for the players, the adult Brownes have enjoyed it equally, forming friendships within the community that span much further than the baseball diamond. It’s that type of camaraderie that they aim to establish in Sussex County.
“We need that here,” said Megan Browne. “All the parents need to get to know each other and come together and talk about school and IEP’s and ‘What’s your kid eat?’ [Kids] all have such little quirks and to share that with people that understand your life is very therapeutic.”
The dugout chatter between parents in the Brownes’ former league in Maryland ended up escalating to things like taking the kids to sensory-friendly movie nights, bowling nights and even a kickball league in the fall.
“We all kind of bonded, and then in the fall we all kind of missed each other,” Browne explained. “Since everybody’s kind of in the same boat, it’s just an outlet — the parents get to hang out with other parents, and it’s fun. It’s just as much for us as it is for them.”
The Brownes are hoping that the Challenger League can serve as a jumping-off point for such bonding in Delaware, noting that the atmosphere of the inaugural season at LSLL will be just as lax as the games themselves.
In fact, after safety, the only concern of the league is fun. There are no balls and no strikes, and they don’t keep score. If a kid can’t hit pitches, then they break out the tee. If they don’t know how to swing a bat, then their buddy helps. Even if someone misses a game, it’s not a big deal.
“It’s really not competitive,” explained Kevan Browne. “Everybody hits, everybody moves one base at a time, then the last guy up each inning gets to hit a home run and clear the bases. After safety, the biggest concern is making sure the kids have a good time.”
One of the main concerns for parents, according to the Brownes, is their uncertainty as to whether or not their son or daughter is right for the league or would be able to participate. But like most everything else about the league — it’s no worries. The league is designed to accommodate nearly anyone, regardless of what their condition may be, whether it’s Down syndrome, brain injuries, physical injuries, wheelchairs, autism or anything else.
“It’s the full spectrum,” explained Kevan Browne. “From kids who probably could have played in regular leagues ability-wise but emotionally they couldn’t handle the pace and the competitiveness of the game.”
“There’s no issue that we won’t handle,” Megan Browne said. “It’s so relaxed, and it’s so accommodating.”
While, for their inaugural season, they’re hoping to field enough players to field two teams — playing in locations from LSLL to Georgetown and beyond, depending on where their players come from — there are still some big plans set forth for this spring.
Not only has the district approved a Challenger League game to take place at this year’s Little League World Series, but possible outings to Perdue Stadium and even the Delmarva Shorebirds coming out to be players’ buddies are also in the works.
As for other buddies, the league is always looking for volunteers, but usually it comes down to the parents.
“We train the buddies how to be buddies, to keep the kids safe,” Megan Browne said. “We let the kids pick who they want, so there’s not a lot of anxiety. It’s all about whatever is best for the kids — it’s totally normal, it’s totally expected, we all get it.”
Registration for the league is open at www.lowersussexlittleleague.com and costs only $25. There will also be several in-person signups held, including the one on Saturday, May 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lower Sussex Little League Complex. There will be another registration held the following Saturday, May 9, at the same times, at the Georgetown Little League Concession Stand.
For any questions regarding the league, send Kevan and Megan Browne an email at LLSLChallengerDivision@gmail.com.
Lighthouse Christian School in Dagsboro will be hosting its annual Spring Breakfast Fundraiser this weekend to help collect funds for the school’s Learning Assistance program.
“Every penny goes to helping needy families keep their kids in the private school,” said Rudy Viguie, whose wife, Pat, is the event planner for the school.
Last year, the breakfast raised $4,000, and an anonymous benefactor matched the funds — for a total of $8,000. This year, that same benefactor has pledged to match all funds raised.
“It’s a big thing for our school,” said Viguie, noting that eight families benefitted from the program last year. “All the money goes to helping the children.”
The breakfast will be held on Sunday, May 3, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Dagsboro Boys & Girls Club. Tickets cost $5 for adults, and children ages 2 to 12 may eat for $3. Tickets may be purchased at the school’s office or at the door.
Viguie said the families who will be receiving funds from the program will be helping out at the breakfast, with the school children helping to serve attendees.
“It’s really so cute to see the kids serving the breakfast,” said Viguie. “It’s really worth seeing.”
“It’s a way the families get to give back. Some of the families are very appreciative. They give back in other ways in the year,” said Pat. “They don’t give back with their money — they give back with their time.”
The menu features pancakes, French toast, sausage, orange juice, coffee, hot tea, milk and chocolate milk. For those who don’t wish to eat there, take-out is available.
Viguie said a local family restaurant donates all the food for the fundraiser, for which they are greatly appreciative.
Funds were originally raised by selling homemade buckeye candies, and eventually grew into the breakfast.
The mission of Lighthouse Christian School is to train students to “glorify God academically, physically, spiritually, and walk in His truth.”
“The kids get a religious education, because it’s a Christian school. They’re taught with Christian values. The kids have a card ministry — they send get-well cards every week… The cards come from the heart.”
The total student body is approximately 140, and Viguie said it’s a tightly-knit unit.
Viguie said it’s essential for the school to have programs that will help families send their children to the school by subsidizing the $3,300 tuition cost per year.
“It’s heartbreaking to see children have to leave because their family can’t afford it,” he said. “It doesn’t solve every problem for every family, but for some families it helps a lot.”
The Dagsboro Boys & Girls Club is located at 28154 Lighthouse Crossing, off Route 113 in Dagsboro.
Those who are unable to attend but would still like to donate can call Lighthouse Christian School at (302) 732-3309.
Fenwick Island Police Chief William Boyden offered a warning to local property owners at the April 24 town council meeting, noting that it had been discovered that criminals with reported connections to terrorism were using homes unoccupied during the winter as mail drops for credit and cash cards that had been obtained through identity and credit theft.
The FIPD had received reports of unwanted mail — often in bulk and with multiple unrecognized recipients’ names — being received in some mailboxes in the town, and has been working with postal inspectors on the issue, he said.
He said there had been nearly $1 million in cash cards recovered in Fenwick Island alone, with additional drops having been discovered in northern Ocean City, Md.
“Someone will come by and pick them up and send them overseas,” Boyden said of the local aspect of the crime. “No one here has been victimized,” he said of those impacted by the identity and credit theft. And he noted that those picking up the mail may be unaware that it is linked to terrorism.
“The pickup people are people who have been here a couple years, and a lot of times they don’t know who they’re working for. They’re just paid $100 to pick up the mail,” he said.
If anyone receives mail at their property that is not addressed to them, Boyden urged them to turn it over to the police, or just to call them and they’d come pick it up.
“It’s not in the name of the home owner, usually,” he said, adding that it might be 25 envelopes addressed to 25 different people, and a property owner might come in for the weekend and discover the batch of unwanted mail that hadn’t yet been picked up by the courier.
Three Fenwick Island Police Department officers who were recently approved for promotions were honored at the April 24 meeting of the town council.
Boyden noted that, due to the transfer of some personnel this year, some changes in rank were needed. He explained that the department had hired a Chicago-based company to provide a promotions test and perform a professional evaluation for each candidate, including their background training and experience.
First to be promoted, back in January, was Sgt. John Devlin, who was promoted to lieutenant. And, last Friday, Brian Parsons was promoted to sergeant, while Steve Lowe was promoted to corporal.
Boyden admitted he’d “stolen” Parsons from the Selbyville Police Department and noted that he came with experience in spades, as a former police chief in Greenwood, and rarely said he couldn’t do something he was asked to do.
Lowe, who has served with the FIPD for about a year, in probationary status, was another new FIBD officer with plenty of experience. “We’re very fortunate to have people of this caliber,” Boyden said, “with the amount of experience they bring to the department. Steve was a Millsboro police officer,” he explained, noting Lowe’s brief stint as a car salesman before he returned to law-enforcement in Fenwick Island. “These two are incredible employees,” he said.
Things are also changing in the FIPD building, as Boyden said the Town had hired a contractor to convert a space in the building to a restroom for detainees, using a Sussex County grant that will cover the cost without a town match. He also announced an effort to convert the building to LED lighting, which he said would save from 50 to 55 percent on its electrical usage.
Town Manager Merritt Burke also announced the pending retirement of town clerk Lynn Massey in early June, with replacement Christie Brittingham starting this week and to receive about a month of training. The police department’s summer clerk will come back for a second summer starting this week, making it possible for both buildings to be open full-time through the season.
Town prepares for summer season
Fenwick Island Beach Patrol Capt. Tim Ferry thanked the Town’s Public Works Department for repainting the lifeguard stands ahead of the 2015 summer season. He noted that he had ordered two new signs for the beach and planned to have the stands put out during the week of May 16.
Ferry said all but two of the spots on the FIBP had already been filled, with expectation of filling those remaining spots on April 25, with a rescheduled try-out. In all, 21 of last year’s 28 guards are returning, he said. “They’re on the younger side, but not inexperienced,” he said, saying that the current roster should keep the FIPB “going good for the next couple years.”
He said the squad’s equipment and uniforms were ready to go, ahead of lifeguards being on duty on weekends until the second full week in June and daily from then on. Junior lifeguard program registration is under way, he added, with hopes of expanding the program further this summer.
Visitors to the town this summer will see the start of some changes in the town park, beginning with the removal of the old spring-rider toys in favor of a new crawl tube. But that’s just the beginning.
“We have found the job more intensive than we thought,” Mayor Audrey Serio reported from the Town’s Ad Hoc Park Committee. “Since the park was previously done, the [Americans with Disabilities Act] and insurance factors have come to light. When we’re making choices and thinking about what we may want to do, we have a lot of parameters that are controlling things.”
“A lot of the things we have out there are not compliant, and we’re trying to make it as compliant as we can,” she added. A variety of surface materials were considered at a recent committee meeting, along with a variety of playground equipment for another section of the park, all coming with a potentially significant price tag, depending on the final design choices.
Fencing was recently installed in that section of the park, which is being targeted for new equipment for a slightly older set of children, with a removable section included so that the eventual equipment could be moved in. The Town was constrained by time limits on the grant for the fencing and had to have it done before the rest of the project was ready.
“We’re looking at equipment for the next age group,” she said of the planned facilities targeted at kids in first through third grades.
“The gazebo has rotted and needs to be replaced,” she also lamented, further explaining that the sandbox had been deemed a health concern and would be removed, likely in favor of a new, enclosed sandbox structure, with the existing pieces repurposed as a community garden with an educational angle.
“The committee has recently met with playground equipment vendors,” she noted, adding that the committee members had been “shocked by the prices,” and were consulting with a landscaper on other ideas for the revamped park.
“I think we decided we will probably need to come up with a plan for the whole area, because a lot of things need to transpire and are going to have to be done over a series of time,” Serio said, noting that a presentation will be made to the council about what the committee has learned and their suggestions. The butterfly garden is planned to be replanted, while garden club members are planning to plant new flowers.
Meanwhile, the relatively new Canon Street Park has received a semi-mature 6-foot-tall river birch tree in honor of Fenwick again being named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. The council, on a 5-0 vote, on April 24 approved an Arbor Day resolution that is one component of that program, urging citizens to make efforts to protect trees and woodlands.
A similar unopposed vote approved the placement at the park of a Blue Star memorial from the National Garden Club Inc., honoring World War II military service members. The memorial is being purchased by the Barefoot Gardeners Club.
Additionally, those heading to the Canon Street Park will have a clear path, with an ADA-compliant sidewalk now tied in with a new walkway.
Public Works employee Vaughn McCabe received appreciation from the council last week after repurposing a sign at the town park that had come down during Hurricane Sandy. The parts were repainted and, with $100 of materials, transformed into a community information kiosk that currently offers information on native plants and parking in the town.
The information will join a “rack card” with general information on the town that is being re-designed to replace three separate fliers the Town currently hands out with parking permits.
New town beach signs are also going up. The 14 new signs, made of rigid PVC material, replace two sets of old aluminum and wooden signs, and reflect months of drafts for the verbiage being used. The Town of Ocean City has been using the material for signage for years, and the only down-side cited for it was potential for some fading in the sun.
Public Works Director Bryan Reed noted that the beach-accessibility mats are going in and benches being returned to the dunes, too. “It’s that time of year,” he said.
Also on April 24:
• Councilman Gardner Bunting reported that, with two months left in the Town’s fiscal year, it has taken in 94.6 percent of its anticipated operating-budget revenue, while spending 65.6 percent of the budgeted expenditures. “That leaves us very comfortable to finish the year out,” he said, also noting $277,470 in transfer tax revenue for the fiscal year through the end of March and $14,000 in excess of budgeted property tax revenues, $3,000 in excess for rental receipts tax revenue and $2,500 in excess for parking violations.
The Town had a very busy March for building-related fees, with $23,000 in permit fees, taking the Town to $153,000 for the fiscal year to date — nearly the full $160,000 budgeted for the fiscal year, with more than two months remaining. A rough estimate of the anticipated fees above the budgeted figure was given at 30 to 40 percent.
• Bunting also reported the hiring of an outside contractor to collect yard waste in the town five times between April and September, at a lower cost, due to the vendor’s equipment being able to handle enough volume to cover the entire town in one day.
Some residents at the meeting questioned the decision to collect yard waste twice in April and once each in May, June and September, saying they felt additional collections might be needed in July and/or August.
Burke said that, if a need to have additional collections was found, the Town could certainly accommodate them and would post a revised schedule if changes were made. Serio said the topic would be discussed during upcoming budget discussions. A budget meeting is scheduled for May 19 at 2 p.m., at which Burke said he would present a budget plan with department heads.
• The Town has also recently hired a part-time contract employee who has been digitally scanning old minutes from town meetings and property tax cards, to protect the records against damage to the paper copies.
Proposals are also coming in for a new telephone system that is set to be installed by the end of May.
• Burke reported approval of a DNREC surface-water grant that will include drawings of a plan to raise West Dagsboro Street to deal with flooding. Bids for the work should be done in the fall, with costs split with the State. He also reported having attended a workshop on federal hazard mitigation grants for homeowners who raise their homes. He said three Fenwick homeowners are benefitting from the grants after the flooding seen in Hurricane Sandy.
• Councilman Bill Weistling Jr. reported having surveyed town streets with an employee of Kercher Engineering, to note areas of needing repairs, and avoiding spending thousands of dollars on a new study. “They’re in pretty good shape. A lot of surface cracking could be sealed,” he said, adding that Glen Avenue needs resurfacing.
He recommended the Town have a calculation done during the summer of the footage of roadway that needs repaired, ahead of getting an estimate for a possible fall paving project “that could get everything up to par … for a few years.” Burke said such work was already in the capital budget for the coming fiscal year.
• Several residents expressed concern that the Town doesn’t use preferential bidding to favor businesses based in the town itself. Burke said he routinely reaches out to local vendors to include them in the bidding process and that if anyone has a business they want to be included on the list of vendors to be sent information, they should let him know.
“The best bid was taken,” Serio noted of the recent sign purchase, which was awarded to a Dagsboro-based company. Reed said he tries to use local businesses as much as possible, including the park walkway, which was done by a Frankford-based company, “And they were the cheapest.” Ferry added that he does the same and that, while the company that does the FIBP uniforms isn’t local, strictly speaking, its owners are summer residents of the town and consistently offer the lowest bid.
“Preferential is a bad word,” Serio cautioned those urging the Town to select town-based businesses. “We have to be very careful. People will ask why we awarded the bid to a higher bidder. We have to use total fairness.”
Burke said the issue could be considered by the Charter & Ordinance Committee, but that he was concerned the result would be companies outside the town opting not to bid at all, which could result in increased costs to the Town.
“There’s room for discussion,” he said. “It is common throughout the country to have that. I don’t know if you can make it work or not. … To date, I don’t think we have ever awarded a contract to anyone local just because they were local. We’ve picked the lowest if they’re qualified. We do reach out to as many local vendors as we can.”
While Karimali for Hair may be offering some new services, including makeup and full body waxing at their new location in Fenwick Island, they’re still offering the same service that has made their customers feel like family for the past seven years.
“Most of my friends are my clients,” explained Gina Karimalis, who owns the shop with her husband, Costa. “They turn into my family. I maybe met them doing their hair, but they become my family.”
As a professional hairstylist in their area throughout her entire life — much like most of her entire staff, with which she has worked for just as long — to Karimalis, the inviting, family-like atmosphere is just the way it’s always been.
“You’d be surprised. This is a hangout,” she said. “To me, it just seems so normal.”
But with Karimalis working on both women’s and men’s hair, and even children’s hair, it’s not just the girls gabbing in the shop.
“[The men are] outside looking at cars, and we’re in here working,” Karimalis said of the shop’s male clients who come in and get along well with Costa — who, with his management experience, deals with the business aspects of things.
Karimalis noted that the dynamic is the norm, but she envisions that it will only continue to escalate in the newly designed shop and Fenwick Island location.
“I wanted something more tranquil,” she explained of the decor. “[Customers] love it here. The location’s been great. We love being in Fenwick Island.”
One of the major new additions is more space, which Karimalis uses for full body waxing.
“We expanded a little bit. We added on a waxing room so we could do full body waxing,” said Karimalis. “People at the beach need that.”
They’ve also incorporated space for a fully functioning makeup station.
“We keep up with every trend going on,” said Karimalis. “I have girls that are in the younger generation — they are on it, they’re on the social media, how to contour makeup, how to do the latest trends in hair — they are on it.”
It’s that kind of attention to detail and commitment to keeping up with the ever-changing trends in beauty that Karimali’s staff prides themselves on.
“We go to classes a lot in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Education is a must for anybody that works here,” said Karimalis of the importance of continuing education for stylists and being able to impart it on customers, “educating the client what to do with their hair, products and new tools and techniques.”
“They need to know exactly what to do with the product,” added Costa Karimalis. “Some of the customers buy a product, but if they don’t have the right education from the stylist, then basically the product is useless.”
Of course, if a customer is unhappy with a product, they can always return it.
“They’re always happy. If they’re not, we always find a way to make them happy,” said Gina Karimalis. “If they don’t like it, we exchange it for something that will work.”
With that kind of commitment to excellence, Karimali’s clients keep coming back.
“It really comes down to the talent, the work ethic,” said Gina Karimalis. “There’s a lot of hairdressers out there, but there’s only a few good hairdressers out there.”
“Stylist are artists. They’re creating art for somebody,” Costa Karimalis summed up.
To set up a consultation and see the new shop in person, call (302) 541-0208 or stop by at 1100 Coastal Highway in Fenwick Island. You can also find out more information on the website, www.karimaliforhair.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/karimali.forhair and on Instagram @karimali_for_hair.
How many fire trucks can you fit in one parade? How about three states’ worth?
Millsboro will host a full firefighter’s parade on Saturday, May 2, at 2 p.m., as part of the annual Del-Mar-Va Volunteer Firemen’s Association Convention.
The Millsboro Volunteer Fire Department has the honor of hosting the 86th annual men’s convention and 81st ladies auxiliary convention from April 30 to May 2.
“We’d like folks to come out. This is a fairly big-size parade for the Del-Mar-Va Association, with this many pieces of apparatus,” said Ronald O’Neal, MVFD president.
Besides the procession of 35 pieces of fire apparatus, two bands are performing: Woodbridge High School and the Citizens’ Hose Company of Smyrna.
“I can’t remember a convention parade where we’ve had one marching band, let alone two,” said O’Neal. “This is pretty cool. We’re hoping for a great day.”
The parade will use a shortened version of the town’s Christmas parade route. Line-up is near the Delaware Eye Institute on Mitchell Street. The parade the turns onto Wilson Highway, left at Railroad Avenue, right onto Main Street, going through downtown Millsboro before turning right on State Street and ending at Millsboro Middle School.
Afterward, the public is being invited back to the fire hall for hotdogs and more. Trophies will be awarded afterward, too.
“We’re holding it this year because the outgoing [association] president is from our company,” said O’Neal of Robert “Bob” Hudson.
He estimated that Millsboro has hosted the convention three times. The last time was in 2006.
The presidents rotate between the three states in the association, so conventions do, too.
“We’re pretty excited. This is pretty good for the Del-Mar-Va association. We’re thinking it’s going to be a nice day.”
He estimated that 90 fire companies are members of the association and about 130 delegates will represent 40 companies in Millsboro.
After two days of meetings and banquets, Saturday begins with a memorial service for members of the organization who passed away throughout the year — both emergency responders and the auxiliary.
They’ll be ready to celebrate the future when the parade starts that afternoon at 2 p.m.
The South Bethany Town Council has been looking under people’s houses lately. But homeowner’s should get upset over privacy concerns — the council is researching a new ordinance, which would affect lattice and boards around the open space under houses.
The April 10 council meeting revolved around houses’ floor-area ratio (FAR).
FAR is a ratio of a property’s floor area to the total lot area. The FAR calculation does not include attics, crawlspaces, ground-level decks and unenclosed ground-level spaces among pilings.
But some people surround those ground-level areas with lattice or boards, and in dealing with proposed Ordinance 179-15, the council needs to decide how much space goes between those boards.
The first thing the council did was reduce the Charter & Code Committee’s recommendation of a minimum space between slats, from .75 inches to .25 inches, giving homeowners more flexibility.
“Ground-level spaces are not included in FAR unless they’re enclosed. So the code said there must be a gap between boards in order to tell it’s not enclosed,” Councilman George Junkin said.
The council debated how small the gap can be before the area is considered enclosed.
“The purpose … is aesthetic, as far as not making the house seem as bulky,” chimed in Bob Cestone of the Charter & Code Committee.
“It was at the request of the code enforcement official, because people are asking ‘How much space is allowed?’” and he needed something to enforce, Cestone said. “He personally didn’t care what it was.”
Councilman Tim Saxton said he would happily eliminate FAR altogether.
“There’s been a lot of the discussion around the bulkiness,” Saxton said. “I argue, if you take away the FAR, you can make it solid, as long as you vent [properly, according to FEMA standards]. … Let the people decide if they want slats or not.”
Currently renovating his house, Saxton said he would like to have a workshop or storage on his ground floor, but “People can now look and see what I store on my first floor.” He’s confined by a code that demands slats, so it doesn’t look enclosed.
Councilman Jim Gross agreed that FAR is not needed, but he said that was a discussion for the Charter & Code Committee, not for that night.
Currently, South Bethany properties are allowed to be built to a livable-area ratio (LAR) of 60 percent of the lot area and FAR of 71 percent.
Saxton and Councilwoman Sue Callaway opposed the quarter-inch minimum on April 10.
The ordinance still has two more readings and opportunities for debate, part of South Bethany’s three-reading requirement.
“Which is a damn good process,” Gross said.
Ordinance 179-15 would also clarify the definition of “Substantial Damage,” in which “Market value shall be determined in accordance with FEMA P-758, Substantial Improvement/Substantial Damage desk reference, Section 4.5 Determining Market Value.”
Are canals safe for swimming?
One resident asked on April 10 about the safety of swimming in town canals.
“You may swim in the canal,” Junkin said, noting that he had jumped in in the past to fix his boat or retrieve a fallen tool.
It’s not illegal, he said, but he doesn’t recommend spending too much time in there.
“We also monitor bacteria. Quite often, our canals have a bacterial level that’s higher than is recommended for swimming,” Junkin said. “The [bacteria] they measure is not the one that makes you sick … but it’s an indicator that other things are in there, too.”
Readings can vary, even from dog waste or ducks nearby in the canal. The canals have worse water quality the farther they are from the main water bodies that feed them, including the Little Assawoman Bay.
Even the Little Assawoman has signs that warn people to swim only at their own risk, Junkin said, and a local man’s leg got very infected after he cut his leg underwater, he reported.
Life jackets are recommended, too, because it’s a navigable water, added resident William Bombright.
Budget for 2016 fiscal year approved
Tax rates are going unchanged again in the 2016 fiscal year. Property tax rates will remain at $1.30 per $100 of assessed valuation. The rental tax rate will remain at 8 percent of total gross receipts for each residential and commercial property.
When questioned as to why the rates aren’t being increased, council members said they didn’t see a reason to.
Saxton cited the Town’s insurance and reserve funds.
“If you up all our surpluses, we have 12 months total. … It would be very difficult to justify raising taxes when we have surpluses,” Councilman Tony Caputo said.
Meanwhile, the tax base is increasing as people move to and build in South Bethany.
Town-owned bulkheads are already covered by financial reserves, and the State of Delaware owns the beaches. The Town’s largest responsibility is its roads.
In a truly catastrophic event, the town wouldn’t be alone in having major needs. The whole coast would be affected, said Caputo.
Plus, FEMA and insurance would likely chip in, Junkin said. He said he didn’t see the value of saving millions of dollars for something that only might happen.
The town council has the power to levy taxes anyway, in case other funding fell through, Councilman Al Rae said.
In other South Bethany news:
• South Bethany was awarded a $10,000 Coastal Management Assistance Grant for a sea-level-rise vulnerability assessment. South Bethany will contribute an equal match to the grant funding, but mostly as in-kind measures and labor.
Although the consultant has done work in Lewes, Junkin said he wasn’t aware of neighboring “communities looking as closely as we are.” (Fenwick Island has also received grants for sea-level rise studies and is looking at raising one of its streets as a result.)
• The Town received a beach wheelchair from the Rotary Clubs of Southern Sussex and Ocean City/Berlin (Md.).
• Treasurer Tim Saxton said he expected the Town’s revenues for the 2015 fiscal year to come in “way over budget,” as the Town had $216,000 above the projected transfer tax revenue and 33 percent more in building permit fees than expected.
• Police Chief Troy Crowson gave a presentation on the CodeRED emergency notification software for council’s consideration.
The Town Council’s April workshop was set for Thursday, April 23, at 5 p.m. The next regular Town Council meeting is Friday, May 8, at 7 p.m.
The Indian River School District’s school board is looking on the sunny side, having voted April 28 to take the first step toward solar power.
Sussex Central High School was one of five Delaware locations chosen for a Solar Resiliency Pilot Program.
Not only would the school “go green,” but the solar array saves money and is installed at no cost to the school district.
“This is a pilot program. There are five other entities — a cross-section, if you will, of large users and small users,” said Joe Booth, district coordinator of construction initiatives.
Among a group of other schools and fire companies, SCHS would be Sussex County’s only site. As the largest project, Sussex Central would also have 5,610 total panels, which is the size of 1671 kW of energy.
The board approved of the conceptual layout of solar panels, plus signing of a memorandum of understanding. The vote was unanimous, with Board Member Shaun Fink absent.
The next step will be of more interest, Booth said. That includes the contract, length of time and what the district gets out of the program. Contract terms would be anywhere from 15 to 25 years, with a chance to renew.
The IRSD makes no commitment until the actual contract is signed.
Solar panels would fill the existing northern student parking lot and an empty chunk of land nearby. The parking lot panels would resemble a carport, tilting like a canopy over all the parked cars, in an installation similar to that at the Ocean View Police Department. In the field, panels would be closer to the ground. They’d be supported by single poles in the middle, and a maintenance company would handle all repairs and maintenance.
“They are put at an angle to capture the sunlight,” Booth noted.
Booth estimated that SCHS pays $182,000 in electricity costs to Delmarva Power annually, which translates about 3.7 kWh. Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility is a nonprofit created by Delaware state legislature to deliver energy efficiency to homes and business.
Last student day
on June 11
The board this week also approved a calendar change, allowing students to get out of school one day earlier than previously planned. The last full day of school was moved Thursday, June 11.
Thanks to the decision to add 16 minutes of school each day, the IRSD was already ahead of the game, time-wise, even as the state board of education forgave several days of instruction that were missed for inclement wintry weather.
The students have worked hard this year, Superintendent Susan Bunting said, so they deserved the extra day. Plus, there’s not much schoolwork going on in the last days anyway.
Now, Friday, June 12, will be an in-service day for teachers. Their final day will be a half-day Monday, June 15.
By contract, teachers are allowed time specifically to clean out their classrooms, plus in-service.
The State Board of Education forgave two missed days for teachers. The governor had insisted that state employees not report for work on two weather days, but never specified that teachers were included.
In other school district news:
• Student Charlie Megginson revealed that the student government of Sussex Central High School had written a new constitution, which includes the opening of a new school store.
At one of his final school board meetings, the soon-to-be graduate expressed pride in his classmates.
“I see a lot of things that are going wrong in the world, from the Middle East to right across the bay in Baltimore. But when I see” the actions and motivation of local students, he said, he has hope for the future.
• Board Member Nina Lou Bunting reported that she was unhappy to have received an anonymous letter recently. She provided the only public comment of the night, describing a letter someone wrote about reading in the newspaper that an agriculture class had landscaped a local business. The writer wondered why that service is not available elsewhere.
“Two points: don’t send us anonymous letters. If you have a concern, call us on the phone,” the board member said. Secondly, “Please know the board is not the CEO of the school district. We are stockholders, like you. We just happen to be voting stockholders.”
She recommend such complaints or concerns be sent to the superintendent.
(School district Policy KL on Public Complaints recommends that teachers, then principals, then district administration be the route for concerns from parents and the public. A school board hearing is the final step in the appeals process.)
• After years as a dedicated school bus driver, Jerome Beckett passed away suddenly in March at age 64. The Indian River School District presented an Above & Beyond award to the late Frankford resident and 1968 disctrict graduate.
He was honored for “his total devotion to making sure his students got to school safe,” said Superintendent Susan Bunting, presenting the award to Beckett’s widow, Lucy.
On March 13, Beckett drove his students to Millsboro Middle School as usual.
He “managed to get his bus safely into the schoolyard, and he watched his students safely” enter the school building before he passed away, Bunting said.
• John Campbell earned an Above & Beyond award for his duties as school safety monitor.
During a busy daytime performance at Southern Delaware School of the Arts, he witnessed a visitor placing something suspicious in the back seat of a vehicle. Firearms are entirely prohibited on school property, even though the visitor was trying to place it in safe place.
Campbell was honored “for keeping our students very, very safe and being alert to an action that could have engendered the safety of our students [and more],” said Bunting.
• Millsboro Middle School student Will Kenney was twice honored, for being named a 2015 Carson Scholar and being a finalist from among thousands of entries in the national Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
• The board approved allowing various state agencies to improve pipes and paving on school property, in an effort to improve drainage and access to the utilities.
The next regular Board of Education meeting is Monday, May 18, at 7 p.m. at Indian River High School.
School board candidates got to face their electorate directly last week, answering questions in a District 4 debate on April 21. The League of Women Voters in Sussex County hosted the non-partisan debate among candidates for the Indian River School District’s Board of Education
Three candidates are vying for one District 4 seat (representing Frankford, west Dagsboro and points east). Voters will choose between incumbent Charles Bireley of Dagsboro and challengers Gregory “Greg” Goldman of Ocean View and Judith “Judy” Ladd Teoli of Millville.
The election is scheduled for Tuesday, May 12, at local schools. Board member terms are now five years.
“Your approval or disapproval should be shown at the ballot box, not at this meeting,” moderator Carol Jones told the debate audience at the South Coastal Library.
Charles Bireley is a longtime IRSD board member and president, as well as chairman of the district’s Finance Committee.
Gregory Goldman’s firstborn twins will begin school in fall of 2016, so the real estate agent is beginning a 20-year investment as district parent.
Judy Teoli recently retired to the area, after a lifetime career as teacher and principal in northern Delaware and Maryland.
All three candidates cited growth as IRSD’s next challenge, including population growth, planning and building.
• “What strengths do you bring to the school board?”
Goldman said he brings leadership, level-headedness, practicality and a desire to lead based on “the best interests of all the children.”
Bireley cited his experience as a 38-year board member who was chosen by his fellow board members to be president for the last 10 consecutive years.
“Sound judgment and even temper,” Teoli joked. “I’m willing to collaborate.” She touted her 45 years’ experience and “a sincere interest in education, and that’s why I’m here.”
• Considering the large black and Hispanic student population, candidates were asked about the “negligible” amount of racial diversity on the teaching staff.
Teoli said people will seek a position and salary that is comfortable to themselves. Meanwhile, she said, students seem to be doing well: “There are many Spanish-speaking students, and they’re doing a great job. They’re learning English, and the teachers are also learning Spanish.”
Goldman said he welcomed “any opportunity to bring in a well-qualified teacher, regardless of ethnic background,” and if there’s an opportunity to bring more racially-diverse teachers, that may inspire more diverse youth to become teachers, as well.
“When we have a vacancy, we hire the best person that is available at the time,” Bireley noted.
• All three said they would support the expansion the Spanish-language Immersion Program, currently at two elementary schools.
“Yes, as long as there’s funding,” Goldman said.
“We don’t have additional space in order to really do this,” said Bireley. “We have the funding. We just need the space.”
“Spanish and Chinese are the two languages that you should learn,” said Teoli, who agreed, if the money is there. “I don’t know enough about program here.”
• What is the role of school board members in the day-to-day administration of schools? one person asked.
Bireley called the school board “mainly policy makers. Board members are not supposed to be involved in day-to-day [affairs]. To the best of my knowledge, we don’t do that.”
Teoli said she would like to be “a presence in the schools,” to meet teachers and learn staff concerns.
Goldman agreed on the definition of “policy maker and leader. I don’t have a background in education. I think it best be left to professionals on that level.”
• Do the candidates support new emphasis on writing and critical thinking?
“If the question is specific to test-taking, I think the accountability needs to be there” to determine if students meet expectations, Goldman said.
However, “I think we’re over-testing,” added Goldman, who remembers seeing his fellow real estate agents unprepared for the real world because they only studied to the professional test, rather than truly learning.
“There’s too much teaching to the test,” Bireley said. “Teachers are basically being told that if students do not well on the state test, it has something to do with their employment” per state and federal regulations.
Although she said she doesn’t want students testing all the time, Teoli said she is OK with the new state test, where students may only be at the computer for about seven hours over the course of a week. She said she likes the new emphasis on problem-solving and critical thinking.
“I believe in testing — certainly the Smarter Balanced test. One has to test students. We have to get data to see where they fall,” said Teoli.
• Would they support more charter schools?
“Sussex County doesn’t have number that New Castle County does,” noted Teoli, not having the information to respond further, she said. “I’m not familiar with all the charter schools in Sussex County.”
“Charter schools [have] become a necessity in school districts. However, they need to stay very focused on what their charter is about,” said Goldman, who said he felt that students should attend the school that best fits them.
Bireley said parents should have the right to send students to any school they want. He clarified that Southern Delaware School of the Arts is not a charter school.
• How does the Sussex Technical High School tax issue affect future development within IRSD, the audience asked.
(The State Legislature is considering a bill to reign in Sussex Tech’s student population and finances. It is a separate, independent school district that has students from throughout the area.)
“What the State is doing is appropriate,” Goldman said. “Sussex Tech is an example of a school that has lost its way and lost its charter.”
“I agree with the position the State took,” Bireley said. “They definitely have lost their way. They were supposed to be a vocational school, and they are not a vocational school at this current time. … This is the beginning step to bring them back to what they were supposed to be in the beginning.”
Teoli agreed, noting that there is some vo-tech education available, but Sussex County needs more.
• Bireley has served IR Board of Education for 38 years, non-consecutively. Asked if it’s not time to step aside, he said, “In my opinion, as long as I feel I still have the initiative and drive to do that on the school board, I have that right.”
“He has that right,” Teoli agreed.
Goldman agreed, “But that’s why I want to come to the district.” Everyone must live with the board’s decisions, he said, and he would like to bring a new voice.
• All said they would support a 12-grader joining the school board as a non-voting member.
• Are there any district policies that need to be changed or created? candidates were asked.
“Not really,” Bireley said, adding that a committee oversees all policies.
Teoli said she is more interested in curriculum, especially for gifted students. For instance, she said, she would like a continuation of the elementary ExCEL program.
Goldman said he did not know of any specific policies needing change.
• When asked why IRSD doesn’t adhere to the state mandate for class size, Bireley said, “Over-population. We have some schools and classrooms that just don’t fit.” He said the district adheres to state requirements to hold public hearings and post that information on school buildings.
“It was a question I had,” Teoli said.
Goldman has had such concerns for his own children, believing there “needs to be some foresight on growth,” he said.
• Asked about alternatives to out-of-school suspension, Teoli and Goldman supported in-school suspension. Bireley confirmed that in-school suspension is used. Plus, the district has alternative programs, even when students are removed from their home school.
Candidates give closing statements
All three candidates ended the night on their own terms.
Teoli considered questions for the future.
“I have some questions that I want answered as a board member,” Teoli said, noting issues ranging from professional development to advanced academics in the high school.
“I’m surprised we were not asked about accountably of teachers and student. Accountability, to me, is not a dirty word. We are accountable for what we do on the road, to our partners, our children [and more]. I would like to see a definition of accountability.”
Having read the IRSD mission, she said she hopes to help write a district vision for achieving that mission.
Bireley shared his take on IRSD’s continuing success.
“Indian River School District is one of the most respected school districts in the state of Delaware,” constantly winning awards, Bireley noted.
“It is fiscally sound — better than any other district,” he added, claiming that the district holds a larger contingency fund than the other Sussex County school districts combined. That’s because the board is “fiscally responsible” and doesn’t spend what it doesn’t have, he said
“I appreciate the opportunity to continue as a board member,” Bireley said.
Goldman said he wants to bring “new blood, new freshness. … I don’t think there’s a full understanding of what’s happening out there to our kids on a day-to-day basis,” especially as they’re surrounded by social media, said Goldman.
He noted that more than 50 percent of district 10th-graders do not meet Delaware state standards in science. (The IRSD typically performs slightly better than the state average, according to state statistics.) He said he finds this disturbing and wants to provide leadership in that area. From a corporate perspective, he said low test scores won’t attract new businesses to open nearby.
On May 12, local voters can choose which of the three candidates will best serve the district.
In District 1 (Georgetown), Miguel A. Pirez-Fabar is challenging incumbents James E. Fritz Jr. and James E. Hudson for two seats.
In District 2 (north Millsboro to southern Georgetown), incumbent Shaun Fink was unchallenged and will keep his seat.
Contact the Department of Elections for Sussex County at (302) 856-5367 for more information.
For voter maps or absentee ballots, visit http://electionssc.delaware.gov, click “Info,” then “School Elections.”