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    Coastal Point • File Photo : Festival Hispano brings the culture of many hispanic peoples to Millsboro.Coastal Point • File Photo : Festival Hispano brings the culture of many hispanic peoples to Millsboro.Festival Hispano is more than a colorful celebration of music, food and culture. Beyond the dozens of vendors and the crowds than can exceed 5,000 people, a dynamic develops: The event aims to bridge the past with the present, and the present with the future, and children and adults of all ages can connect with their heritage.

    “We have children who pretty much grew up coming to the festival. This is an important part of their lives,” said Allison Burris Castellanos, a long-time event coordinator.

    This year, Festival Hispano is being organized by La Esperanza community center in Georgetown. The event will be held from noon until 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9, at the Little League Complex on State Street in Millsboro.

    “La Esperanza is proud to be behind this year’s event, which unites people from across the community to celebrate the diverse heritage of Latin America,” said Charlie Burton, board president of La Esperanza.

    This year’s program is packed with local favorites and regional musical groups for children and adults alike. And the event serves as a day for native Delawareans and visitors to experience multicultural music, dancing and food.

    The local musicians include: Lyra Marquense, a marimba band from Georgetown, playing music from Guatemala and Mexico; a children’s dance group from Wilmington, performing traditional dances from Mexico; Cairi, a solo singer from Georgetown, performing songs from Puerto Rico; Baile Folklorico de Frankford, a dance group from Frankford doing traditional dances from Mexico; and Carlos Erazo, a singer performing music from Ecuador, and his wife, Paulina Erazo, a local dancer.

    Out-of-town groups that will perform at Festival Hispano include: Expresiones de Chile of New York, with dances from Chile; Magdaliz y el grupo Crisol of Philadelphia, with a potpourri of folkloric songs from Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela; Ballet Las Pampas of New York, with folkloric music and dances from Argentina; and Chota Madre of New York, with music that is a mix of indigenous, mestizo and African music.

    Food vendors will offer favorites including tacos, pupusas and aguas frescas. The children’s area will again have a moon bounce, piñatas, games and information for families.

    Festival Hispano is made possible by local sponsors that include Harvard Business Services, I.G. Burton, Mountaire Farms, Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles, M&T Bank, Linda Vista Real Estate and El Mercado Market.

    For more information about Festival Hispano in Millsboro, visit the website or send an email to

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    After an officer recognized a vehicle’s passenger as an individual with a warrant out for their arrest, the Ocean View Police Department this week ended up charging two area residents with multiple felony and misdemeanor charges.

    According to police, Joseph Deflavis, 33, was known to the department and was spotted travelling as a passenger in the vehicle of 35-year-old Joseph Manetta.

    Police followed the vehicle and witnessed a suspected drug deal between Deflavis and another individual who was also taken into custody but has yet to be charged.

    “We subsequently found that the cocaine turned out to be fake,” said OVPD Cpl. Rhys Bradshaw. “He was still trying to pull it off as real, so that’s still a crime.”

    Bradshaw said that, following their apprehension of Deflavis and Manetta, the department obtained a search warrant for Deflavis’ Creekside home.

    “We found some real cocaine, marijuana, needles…”

    Deflavis and Manetta were charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors, including maintaining a drug property; manufacture of, delivery of or possession with the intent to deliver a counterfeit controlled substance; Conspiracy in the Second Degree; two counts of possession; and three counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.

    Bradshaw said both men were released on unsecured bond.

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    The Ocean View Police Department is making plans to host Cops & Goblins, a Halloween festival, this fall.

    “We’re fortunate that we’ve got a great rapport with the community here in Ocean View, and we want to maintain that,” said Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin. “We wanted to provide some opportunities for the folks in the area to have a Halloween-based activity.”

    The festival is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 31, in John West Park, from 1 to 5 p.m., to lead right into the town’s official trick-or-treating hours.

    McLaughlin said he hopes to have businesses within the community sponsor tables and hand out candy to the trick-or-treaters, 12 or younger, or offer a fun holiday-themed activity.

    “Trick-or-treating here is difficult, because there are so many seasonal homes. The fulltime folks are spread out, so it’s difficult for the trick-or–treaters,” he said, noting he recently spoke to a Bear Trap resident who only had three kids visit their home last Halloween. “It’s sad, because we have people in the community who want to participate too, and they don’t have the opportunity.”

    McLaughlin said that, as a parent, it has been difficult for his family over the years, as well. In past years, he has even taken his kids to Berlin, Md., to trick-or-treat.

    “I was absolutely amazed by how many folks from this area go down to Berlin,” he said. “They go all-out. They close the city streets, and all the homes are decorated to the hilt.”

    In the event’s first planning meeting, there were discussions of having face painting, pumpkin painting and a Halloween costume contest.

    McLaughlin said he will extend an invitation to other area law-enforcement agencies in the hopes they, too, will attend.

    “I think this will be really great,” said McLaughlin.

    Those who are interested in volunteering for the event or providing sponsorship should call OVPD Cpl. Rhys Bradshaw at (302) 539-1111.

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    The citizens group Protecting Our Indian River (POIR) has announced that it will appeal the decision of Delaware Superior Court Judge Richard Stokes denying their request to overturn a decision by the Sussex County Board of Adjustment that allows the Allen Harim chicken processing plant to move forward near Millsboro.

    “We’re in this for the long haul,” said Jay Meyer, a Possum Point resident who is a member of POIR. “We’re definitely opposed to any discharge into the Indian River.”

    In 2013, Allen Harim announced its $100 million plan to redevelop the site of the former Vlasic pickle plant — a brownfields site — for poultry processing.

    “It’s a battle that we’ve been fighting since 2013, and we’re still in the fight,” Meyer said, adding that the citizens have valid concerns about the health in their area.

    “We swim in the river, we crab out of the river and eat out of the river. We don’t think this is the location that plant should be,” he said. “We’re not against the poultry farmers or anything like that. We’re just concerned with the health in our immediate area.”

    The notice of appeal comes on the heels of the release of a Health Impact Assessment of the Millsboro area conducted by the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Last month, POIR held a public meeting to review the study and discuss what it means for the area.

    “We’ve done a lot of research on this ourselves, and all the research we’ve done kind of added up to very similar things they said in the Rapid Health Impact Assessment.”

    The study stated that residents in the area of interest are overburdened with pollution from multiple sources, that the projected amount of poultry to be processed at the Harim Millsboro plant will likely result in increased levels of air and water pollution, and that the placement of the plant will increase air and soil pollution from diesel exhaust, lead to traffic congestion, and place excessive wear and tear on the roads.

    Meyer said the Delaware Department of Health was invited to the meeting but declined to attend.

    “You would think that your State would be interested in the health and welfare of its people, but they’re not.”

    As attorneys’ fees are mounting, Meyer said the group is seeking donations from the public to help fund their cause. The group is hoping to raise $7,000 worth of donations, and, by Coastal Point’s Wednesday news deadline, had raised more than $2,700.

    To learn more about POIR, visit The group’s GoFundMe account may be found by visiting

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    The Fenwick Island Town Council and Town staff bid farewell to outgoing councilwoman and mayor Audrey Serio at her last meeting behind the council table on July 24. Serio was first elected to the council in 2003, having made the decision to run, she recalled, because her father had previously been elected to the council.

    “I had built a new house here in Fenwick Island with my husband, and I said I was going to run and serve for one term — and here I stand,” she said 12 years later.

    Serio served as council president — the town’s mayor — for nine of those years.

    The lengthy period of leadership and service was honored July 24, with a resolution adopted by the council that will become part of the Town’s permanent records and be displayed at town hall. Additionally, a commemorative brick with Serio’s name on it will be going in the town park.

    Town Manager Merritt Burke noted that he’d only worked with Serio for the three years he’s been with the Town, but pointed out that, in that time, the Canon Street park had been finished, as well as an ADA-compliant kayak launch, rain gardens installed, the town park renovated, basketball court installed, sidewalks laid at town hall and running to the Canon Street park, a new public-safety building built, and purchase for the Town of accessibility-enhancing Mobi mats for dune crossings and “some of top-of-the-line equipment in the state.”

    Burke further noted that the average years of service for town staff had reached seven or eight years during Serio’s tenure. He also pointed to efforts for increased transparency made during the period, including adding a projector system at town hall to help citizens follow along with the content of meetings. Additionally, he noted, doors and windows at town hall had been replaced.

    “I thank you for your leadership,” he told Serio.

    Public Works Supervisor Bryan Reed noted that Serio had come onto the council and immediately been appointed Public Works commissioner. “It was not something she knew anything about,” he said to laughs and a wry acknowledgement from Serio herself. He wished her “a fond farewell,” adding, “I have nothing but great memories of working with you.”

    Police Chief William Boyden noted that Serio had been “one of the faces that swore me in. She’s been the most supportive of the office. If, when I leave, they say I had a successful tenure, I’ll say it was my officers. If they say I was a successful chief, I’ll have her to thank.”

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    The Fenwick Island Town Council approved the Town’s fee schedule and financial plan for the 2016 fiscal year at a July 24 council meeting, including a $1.8 million operating budget, $262,000 in capital improvements and new funding for maintenance of town parks — all with no property tax increase.

    Town Manager Merritt Burke noted some increases in fees, with a business license to cost $185, up $10; late-payment fees up from $25, to $100; the special-event deposit increasing to $250; bonfire permits up $25, to $75; and the cost of an additional parking tag increasing to $75, from $50.

    Councilman Bill Weistling said he thought that last fee should go still higher, and he further recommended the council consider reducing availability to just one additional tag.

    “People want to buy them,” he said, so the fees must not be excessive. “I hope most of them are being used by [townsfolk], but I expect some of them are being passed around to friends and family outside the town.”

    The property tax rate remains at $1.92 per $100 of assessed value, and there were no changes to other parking fees, while the building permit fee is 3 percent of construction costs for the project. All other fees remained the same, Burke said.

    The council approved the schedule of fees unanimously, 7-0.

    Burke reviewed the 2016-fiscal-year financial plan starting with a set of service goals set by town officials, including year-round 24/hour police coverage; updates to the Town website and social media; solid waste, recycling, yard waste and bulk trash collected throughout the year; maintaining Community Rating System (CRS) discounts for insurance; and maintenance and improvements of the Town’s streets, drainage, rights-of-way, buildings and grounds.

    With a goal of funding and maintaining the public parks, 5 percent of real estate transfer tax is now going into a fund set aside to maintain what Burke called “two of the best public parks on the coast.” Other services that are part of the Town’s goals include emergency management and storm cleanup; engagement with other municipal and county and state governments, “to improve the quality of life in Fenwick Island”; and high-quality beach patrol services during the summer season.

    Burke noted the recent addition of an ATV and side-by-side vehicle, which have enabled the beach patrol to provide rides to beachgoers who might otherwise have a hard time getting over the dunes.

    As far as finance-specific goals, Burke said they aimed to keep property taxes at current levels; pursue opportunities for government grants; save transfer tax revenue and any surplus funds for capital improvement projects, such as street resurfacing, equipment replacement and drainage improvement; reserve a portion of transfer tax revenue to fund any general-fund deficits; build long-term reserves; maintain cash reserves to help maximize interest income; reduce worker compensation and insurance premiums, if possible; offer competitive salaries and benefits; offer workplace safety workshops; and allow for professional development opportunities for staff.

    Burke noted that the $1.8 million operating budget was balanced, and in addition to the 5 percent of transfer tax revenue now going into the dedicated parks fund, the Town will continue to put 10 percent of that revenue into its dedicated street fund.

    Delving into the details of the budget, Burke did note a “nominal” increase in health insurance rates. An improving economy, he said, had been seen in increased bonfire fee revenue, as well as the 109 parking permits sold that far in July. He said increases were expected in revenue from property taxes, rental receipt taxes, permit fees, transfer taxes and the beach concession for the state-line beach.

    Seeing a drop in anticipated revenue, Burke said, was the Town’s lifeguard sponsorship program, which was started two years ago as an opportunity for local businesses to advertise on the back of the Town’s lifeguard stands and support the beach patrol service with that funding.

    He said the first year of the program had brought in $13,000, but it only garnered $8,000 in revenue for 2014 and just $4,000 this year. He said there were plans to revamp the program for 2016 to get the revenue levels back up.

    While property tax rates remained unchanged, Burke said property tax revenues had increased by $10,000 from the 2014 fiscal year to the 2015 fiscal year, with a number of properties seeing upgrades, as well as the razing of some older structures in favor of newer ones.

    Burke said most of the Town’s departments had seen a reduction in expenses. Increases were seen in insurance and the cost of daily operations, with the new public-safety building adding about $10,000 annually in new operations costs.

    Planned expenditures for the coming fiscal year included resurfacing of roadways, paving, drainage projects, installation of stone in some areas and facilities maintenance. Burke particularly noted that ponding was causing problems with some residential/commercial property borders and that they would be getting engineering work done to help address that. “We’ll do our best to find grants” for that, he added.

    The police department will get a new vehicle and replace its automated defibrillator devices, while the Town’s administration will have costs for technology projects and professional development, taking the operating budget from $225,000 in 2015 to $260,000 in 2016.

    Burke emphasized that the Town is in good financial standing and reiterated that he feels the economy is rebounding, but that there remains concern about a number of existing funding sources.

    “Like any town, we take it year to year. You never know what is going to happen with State and other funding,” he said, noting persistent proposals to eliminate Municipal Street Aid funding to the towns and to reduce the municipal portion of transfer taxes from a 1.5 percent even split between State and local government to a 1 percent/2 percent split favoring the State.

    “I would recommend people keep in touch with their legislators,” he said.

    Outgoing Mayor Audrey Serio thanked Burke for his revisions to the budgeting process during his three years with the Town. “The way the budget is done now makes it much, much easier,” she said.

    “The figures were being adjusted before our eyes,” Weistling said. “It’s a very smooth process.”

    “We’re also planning five years ahead,” noted Councilwoman Diane Tingle.

    Asked why the Town doesn’t include transfer tax in the revenue areas of its core budget, Burke noted that the council makes the decision whether to use transfer tax revenue for operating expenses and that when he had been hired, the Town didn’t need the transfer tax revenue to fund its budgets.

    “This year, there is a small portion being used to fund operations,” he acknowledged, pointing out that a decade ago, use of transfer tax as a major component of a municipal budget had been common in the area but that the reduced amounts seen during the recession had caused municipalities to re-think the idea, with Fenwick having avoided the pitfall by not including transfer tax as a core revenue item for the operating budget.

    “During the recession, several towns were technically broke because they had it in their budget, and Fenwick Island was not broke,” Tingle said.

    As it stands, transfer tax revenue can fluctuate unpredictably, he said, with $206,000 in 2013, $174,000 in 2014 and $400,000 in 2015. That makes it tricky to include in a budget.

    “We have used it for capital improvements, if necessary, but it’s sort of our savings account,” Serio explained.

    Asked about the solid waste collection costs and related expenses, Burke acknowledged that more than half of the cost of the service is in administrative areas. “For a long time, we have charged for the administrative costs for the work [of town staff] and oversight of contractors. It has always been more than actual cost,” he said of the basis for fees charged to property owners for the various waste services.

    The council approved the budget as presented, on a 7-0 vote.

    Also on July 24:

    • The council unanimously approved the Town applying for a surface-water grant from DNREC. The item was added to the agenda on short notice due to the grant application deadline falling before the next council meeting.

    The grant would fund half of the cost of engineering for some of the Town’s potential drainage projects, which include areas near Pottery Place, Just Hooked and Claddagh pub. The grant allows for up to $50,000 in total project cost, but Burke said he was anticipating the costs to be closer to $30,000, though he was still applying for the full $50,000, just to be sure. The Town would pay no more than $25,000 for the grant-approved projects.

    • Burke announced that the Town will “go backwards to go forward,” reinstating its printed newsletter after a less than successful attempt to go paperless. The next newsletter is set to be mailed out no later than Sept. 15, while the Town will continue to post information on its website and social media, including surf conditions. He also noted that the Town’s new telephone system was up and running, though he acknowledged a few “snags” early on.

    • Burke reminded townsfolk that solid waste service from Waste Industries is set to start Sept. 1, in a change from the previous vendor.

    • Building Official Pat Schuchman noted that the previous three-home elevation project using a FEMA grant has been reduced to a two-house project after one property owner withdrew. The houses will be elevated to 18 higher than the minimum requirement, she said, a number arrived at when the council’s decision on the issue of freeboarding was up in the air.

    • Beach Patrol Capt. Tim Ferry reported a spate of busy days for lifeguards, with 21 rescues in the prior 10 or 11 days, he said, and 55 for the summer that far, providing experience for the squad’s younger guards.

    Ferry said the most significant thing in recent days had been requests for rides via the side-by-side vehicle, with 132 requested in the first 23 days of July alone and 169 for the summer that far. The total in 2014 had been 341 rides, with 237 being requested in 2013. “I expect no fewer than 350 side-by-side requests,” he said of the season as a whole. “Having the ATV allows the beach patrol to respond to emergencies while still providing that service.”

    Despite the significant number of rescues, Ferry said there had been no serious injuries. “We have been fortunate,” he said. “Most of the rescues have been surf-related, but more rip current-related — ironically, on the incoming tide,” he noted, adding that the most serious injuries were when two people got large fishhooks embedded in their foot or ankle areas and had to be transported.

    Wildlife has also been an issue this season, he said, with man-o-war having twice washed up on the town’s beach “with no harm to beachgoers. We disposed of it,” he said, also noting visits by a humpback whale that day, as well as some sightings of sharks this summer. “It’s a little bit of everything with this warmer water.

    “The guards have done a great job guarding the beach and effecting those rescues. With more and more people, it’s inevitable that we’re going to have some of those kinds of things happen,” he added of the bruises, dislocations and other comparatively minor injuries seen thus far this year, “but nothing serious.”

    • The council unanimously approved second readings of a number of zoning ordinances, including ones allowing use of pervious asphalt or concrete inside town limits; a definition of vegetated stormwater buffer; changing the front building limit line in the commercial zone from 25 feet from the property line to 15 feet back; allowing parking in the front setback in the commercial zone; requiring sidewalks in compliance with DelDOT and ADA requirements, or DelDOT-approved alternative, be built anytime substantial improvements are made in the commercial zone; and removing the previous 9-foot encroachment into the front setback allowed for stairways and decks in the commercial zone, due to the change in the setback.

    The changes also require a fence along commercial rear property lines when they abut a residential property, but no longer than 4 feet, with an opening of 20 to 30 percent to allow for airflow and visibility maintained for cars; restricting landscaping and structures to no closer than 5 feet from the front sidewalk and no higher than 3 feet, and no new landscaping or structures less than 10 feet from the curb, with existing areas grandfathered until the total destruction of the existing building.

    • The Beach Committee reported another successful bonfire, with $6,000 raised for the lifeguard competition fund. Ferry said four lifeguards had qualified for the national championships in Daytona Beach this year, with some of the remaining funding being used to send female guards to a women’s national competition in New Jersey. He thanked the beach committee for their work and local businesspeople who he said were eager to donate toward the fundraising efforts.

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    In 1923, Ocean View housewife Cecile Steele placed an order for 50 baby chicks, but ended up receiving 500. From that one mistake, the Delmarva poultry industry was born.

    “Aside from Caesar Rodney riding up and Delaware voting for the Revolutionary War, this is probably the biggest, longest-lasting event that occurred in Delaware, as far as economic and cultural change,” said Ocean View Historical Society President Carol Psaros.

    “The poultry industry has, to some extent, even outlasted the DuPont Company, which certainly was a big event — when the DuPonts immigrated here during the French Revolution.

    “Chickens have played a big part in Delaware history. Our colonial troops were know as fierce fighters because they fought like a blue chicken called the Delaware blue hen which was a fierce gamecock back in the Revolutionary War time,” Psaros noted.

    “It became folklore, and eventually the University of Delaware adopted it as their mascot — the Fighting Blue Hen. So chickens have had a long history here in Delaware, even before Cecile Steele.”

    To share that history, the Ocean View Historical Society will be hosting the Sussex County premiere of the film “Cluck, Pluck & Luck: The Improbable Early History of Delmarva’s Chicken Industry” this Wednesday, Aug. 12, beginning at 7 p.m., at Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church. The screening is free and open to the public.

    Producer and director Michael Oates of 302 Stories Inc. will introduce the film and be available for questions afterward. Oates has produced more than 31 films for various historical and industrial groups — notably ones involving the environment, such as the locally well-known documentary “The Storm of ’62,” and “Dollars on the Beach,” an Emmy-nominated film on Delaware horseshoe crabs.

    “We were familiar with his work,” said Psaros of Oates. “His work is very remarkable and performs a great public service, because a lot of these people have already died, that were in the early chicken houses.”

    Psaros said anyone who is interested in history — and particularly in Delaware history —should attend the screening.

    “It is filled with old pictures from the Delaware Archives, of early Delaware farms. This industry was really started by small family farms, people that were trying to figure out how to raise chickens en masse. It was a lot to contend with. A lot of the early farmers lost their shirts because they made mistakes…

    “Chickens don’t like heat, they don’t like cold. They have to be fed the right kind of grain to put on weight. The early chicken houses were very labor-intensive. There was disease — chicken vaccinators became key to making sure your flock didn’t die. There was a lot to learn.

    “There was no Purdue, there was no Mountaire. The family farmers were on their own to figure out how to raise chickens in a cost-effective way. And those who figured it out became quite wealthy and quite successful, which was a buffer for them during the Depression.”

    Delaware state officials and industry representatives have been invited to the screening, including Delaware Agriculture Secretary Ed Kee and Delmarva Poultry Industry Executive Director Bill Satterfield.

    “It’s really our strongest story,” said Psaros. “The broiler industry is a billion-dollar industry that started here in little Ocean View, Del. It’s an incredible story that one woman’s determination and ingenuity created this long-term industry.”

    The film takes viewers from to a time when many residents relied on subsistence farming to when chickens accounted for a multi-billion-dollar industry.

    “Cecile Steele and the development of the poultry industry was just paramount in Ocean View and now internationally,” she said. “It is Delaware’s largest export item and a huge economic boost for the state. Sussex County still produces, by county, more chickens than anywhere else in the world. It’s very much a part of our way of life here in Sussex County and worldwide.

    “The industry started in 1923. The stock market crashed in ’29. By the time the broiler industry got under way and got its legs, it was a great buffer for Sussex County and Delaware during the Depression. It gave a lot of people work at a time when they would not have had it.”

    Psaros said she hopes those who see the film will be moved to learn more about the history of the chicken industry and visit the Ocean View Historical Complex on summer Wednesdays for free tours, from 1 to 4 p.m.

    “We have a replica of Cecile Steele’s chicken house that her husband build her in 1924,” she said, adding that docents are always present at the complex on Wednesdays. “We’re hoping that once people see the film, they’ll want to come by and look at Cecile Steele’s first chicken house. That’s why we’re so proud in Ocean View to be the downstate premiere, because this is where it all started.”

    Earlier this year, Psaros — a historian and author — penned “Chickens and Mosquitoes: The Art of Uncertain Times,” in which she depicted life in the camps of the Civilian Conservation Corps and inside the early Sussex County chicken houses when the broiler industry was in its infancy. The book will be available for purchase on Wednesday evening, as well.

    Members of the Ocean View Historical Society will also be on hand to answer any questions or inquiries about donations or becoming a member.

    Psaros said preserving Ocean View history is the society’s driving mission, and screening “Cluck, Pluck, and Luck” fits in with that mission.

    “One of our goals is to provide educational programs for people in Sussex County — to tell the history of our region, our town and country. This fits right in with our purpose and our mission as a historical society.”

    Psaros said she is excited for the screening, and hopes visitors and community members will attend to learn more about an industry that started in a back yard in Ocean View.

    “I’m really looking forward to this event, which tells the story of the growth of the Ocean View initiated broiler industry from 1923 to the present. Without a doubt, chickens are Delaware’s most important commodity and global export.”

    For more information on the Ocean View Historical Society, visit The society’s historical complex is located at 39 Central Avenue in Ocean View. To view a preview of “Cluck, Pluck & Luck,” visit Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church is located at 81 Central Avenue in Ocean View.

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    Bethany Beach will not hold town council elections in 2015. With three seats up for election this year, only three candidates filed to run: incumbents Joseph Healy and Chuck Peterson, and resident Jerry Morris, who will fill the seat held by Jerry Dorfman. The seats have two-year terms.

    Morris has served on the Town’s Non-Residential Design Review Committee since October of 2014, as the liaison from the Planning Commission.

    He is the commission’s vice-chair, as well as a member of the Budget & Finance Committee and Fourth of July Parade Committee. He has also served on the board of directors for the Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market and the Bethany Beach Landowners’ Association.

    Healy, Peterson and Morris will be sworn in ahead of the October council meeting.

    In 2016, there will be four seats up for election, currently held by Jack Gordon, Lew Killmer, Bruce Frye and Rosemary Hardiman.

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    More than half of Fenwick Island’s eligible voters cast ballots in the Aug. 1 town council election, responding to a month of intense campaigning by the six candidates running for four seats.

    Incumbents Richard Mais (251 votes), Gene Langan (245) and Roy Williams (223) led in the polls, followed by challenger Julie Lee (199). They defeated challengers Lisa Benn (195) and Ann Christ (173).

    Residents seem to have voted against the bloc, as the four candidates collectively known as the “Fenwick Four” — Williams, Lee, Benn and Christ — received the lowest vote counts.

    At least 400 ballots were cast.

    Mais, Langan, Williams and Lee will be sworn in at an Aug. 18 special council reorganization meeting, when new council positions will also be chosen, including the council president/mayor role, which had been held for nine years by recently retired councilwoman Audrey Serio.

    The next regular town council meeting is set for Aug. 28 at 3:30 p.m.

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    The Indian River School Board has picked a parent with a finance background to join the board, filling a seat recently vacated by controversial board member Shaun Fink. Gerald “Jerry” Peden Jr. was appointed on July 27 to represent District 2 (north Millsboro and southern Georgetown).

    “I take a lot of pride in the district, because both my wife and I graduated from Sussex Central High School,” he said. “My father was a longtime teacher and coach in the district.”

    Peden (“PAY-den”) and his wife now have three children in the district.

    “I’m very, very pleased with the education they’re getting. There’s nothing in my mind that I’m getting involved to change,” said Peden, whose goal is “just to maintain the great job they’re doing.”

    Fink resigned in May, citing his personal beliefs and concerns regarding what he called the school board’s “acquiescence to the homosexual agenda.” Peden’s appointed term ends in June of 2016, when the position will be up for election. The school board interviewed several candidates for the seat, according to an official.

    The 47-year-old is a vice president/financial advisor at Fulton Financial Advisors in Georgetown, where he does “all kinds of” budgeting and financial planning for clients. Working in investments, Peden has been 13 years each at Fulton and, previously, at Citizens Bank.

    “Looking down the road … I think that could be helpful in looking at the books and records of the school district, as well,” said Peden, adding that he plans to attend all committee meetings at first, then focus more deeply on his future committee assignments.

    Peden brings board experience, having served on the board of directors for his homeowners’ association and for the Georgetown Little League.

    He did his undergraduate studies at Washington College and his graduate studies at the University of Virginia. A former college basketballer, he has coached basketball for his daughter and baseball for his son.

    As a parent and teacher’s spouse, “I stay involved in the PTO,” his children’s education and state testing. “I want to make sure the curriculum is up to par with what the State expects.”

    Although his wife teaches in the district, Peden said that shouldn’t constitute a conflict-of-interest.

    “They believe it’s far enough away. If there are any specific issues in that one building, I may be asked not to vote.”

    Constituents can contact their new representative on the IRSD board at

    “I’m just here to represent the community, look out for the best interests of the kids, be dedicated, hardworking and do whatever I can do to maintain the current status,” said Peden.

    “I’ve been involved in the district for decades. I honestly feel at the bottom of my heart, it’s one of the premier districts in the state,” he said.

    The IRSD Board of Education currently has one more seat to fill, after Nina Lou Bunting resigned her seat representing District 3 (south Millsboro and northern Dagsboro) to accept a nomination to the Delaware State Board of Education. Interviews of potential replacements are scheduled for an Aug. 10 special board meeting.

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    The Indian River School District’s Board of Education has approved a balanced budget of $49,922,101 for the 2016 fiscal year. That is a slight increase, of about $400,000, from the 2015 budget, reflecting both population growth (more taxpayers) and some reduction in the overall tax rate.

    More than $39 million is from locally collected taxes, and $10 million is discretionary general-fund dollars. Of the taxes collected, $311,000 were penalties from delinquent accounts, which Sussex County had worked harder to chase this fiscal year — meaning IRSD got 101.7 percent of its anticipated taxes.

    This is the first year the district didn’t exceed its budget for regular substitute teachers and staff, due to better monitoring of employee hours, officials said.

    IRSD Finance Director Patrick Miller said he anticipates Division 1 units (state funding allocated to the district for teachers and staff) increasing by 20, to a total of 745, and the Division 2 units (special education needs) increasing by 25.

    The Howard T. Ennis School budget was approved at $6.3 million, reflecting increases in staff and that the school’s playground is getting evaluations and some replacements. Miller noted that HTE has always exceeded its substitute teacher budget, at least since 1998, which is the farthest back he knew of.

    In other news from the July 27 meeting:

    • Gerald “Jerry” Peden Jr. was appointed and sworn in to the recently vacated District 2 seat (north Millsboro and southern Georgetown) for a term ending June 30, 2016.

    • Meal prices remain unchanged for the 11th straight year. Student lunch platters will be $1 for elementary school, and $1.10 for middle and high schools. Breakfast costs 60 cents. Reduced-price lunch and breakfast costs are 40 cents and 30 cents, respectively.

    Students can buy individual items, such as milk, salads, sandwiches or ice cream, for the same prices as last year, too.

    • The board honored Nina Lou Bunting for her service on IRSD Board of Education. She recently left the board to accept a nomination to the Delaware State Board of Education.

    “I now get to make policy” for the state, rather than interpret it for the district, Bunting said. “I want to hear from you if you have any ideas, things you want to see done.”

    Bunting takes the seat on the state board that was vacated by Randall “R.L.” Hughes, who also visited the board on July 27, in his new capacity as chief of the Georgetown Police Department. Overseeing a diverse and now rapidly expanding population, Hughes emphasized the importance of IRSD having a Georgetown school resource officer in the northern schools, five of which are served by GPD.

    The agenda item of school resource officers was moved until after the evening’s executive session.

    A special board meeting will be held Monday, Aug. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Indian River Educational Complex in Selbyville. The agenda includes interviews for new board members, among other items.

    The next regular board meeting is set for Monday, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. at Sussex Central High School.

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    Boatlifts seem to be popping up all around South Bethany. But there are no zoning regulations on these structures, from the size to the number a person can build.

    At its July 23 workshop, the town council appointed an ad-hoc group to study boatlifts and floating docks. It will present research and recommendations, and the council can then decide whether to take future action.

    Members of the ad-hoc group include Dick Oliver, Jack Whitney, Joe Conway (chairperson) and Dave Wilson.

    Although the four men are all members of the Planning Commission, they said this is not a committee under that commission.

    Meanwhile, discussions are just beginning for a potential town hall and police station expansion.

    “We’ve always had a need here for anther conference room,” Town Manager Mel Cusick said, describing town council executive sessions that shoo the public out into the hallway; committee meetings that battle for space; and financial auditors who share space with committee meetings.

    Meanwhile, the police station’s shared locker room/armory/kitchen space isn’t cutting it.

    They estimated a cost of $197,200 for town hall renovations and $199,100 for the police station. The Town already has grants for about 15 percent of that. Joining the two buildings would be more hassle than it’s worth, Cusick noted.

    The designs were funded with an unexpected special grant from Sussex County.

    The Budget & Finance Committee will further investigate the matter.

    Council Treasurer Tim Saxton was absent for the unopposed vote, having left the workshop early for personal business matter. Councilman George Junkin was also absent.

    In other South Bethany news:

    • The council adjusted the makeup of the Communications & Public Relations Committee to be four voting members, plus a staff member. Originally, 29 people were listed as members, which would require an unrealistic 15-person quorum to vote on anything. The council determined that many of the members were just volunteers on individual projects.

    • A local homeowner is taking advantage of a flood-mitigation program under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

    There are older houses, built before the establishment of zoning regulations, whose owners “can apply, through the Town, to FEMA and DEMA for assistance on raising their house” to 1 foot above base flood elevation (BFE), Cusick said. “It’s a good project.” Two homes in Fenwick Island are also being raised under the program.

    The house at 204 Carlisle is South Bethany’s first such project since 2004, Cusick said. But it’s taken about 2.5 years, because FEMA kept changing guidelines. (They’re reasonable demands, Cusick said, but it would have been easier to know them up-front.)

    East Coast Structural Movers produced the only bid on the project, about $48,000. FEMA would pay $36,900 of the 75/25 cost split. The homeowner pays the rest.

    The Town pays that bill then looks for FEMA’s reimbursement. FEMA will also pay Town-specific costs, such as staff hours for inspections and bidding.

    The council voted unanimously to approve the measure, with Junkin absent and Carol Stevenson abstaining because she couldn’t hear the discussion via remote access.

    • The Town will consider hosting a flood-risk evaluator seminar. Although this community outreach is run by a company that sells flood vents, it may be eligible for Community Rating System points (which could help lower residents’ overall flood insurance premiums).

    There is no charge to the Town to host the seminar, and the company doesn’t actively try to hawk its products. It simply helps people learn how to better protect their homes, thereby saving money on flood insurance, staff said.

    The Sea-Level Rise Committee is also required by one of its grant programs to host a public information session, so the council discussed potentially combining the two.

    • Police Chief Troy Crowson reviewed an overstock program South Bethany already participates in, allowing agencies to scoop up inexpensive equipment, on a first-come, first-served basis. That can range from Humvees to recycling bins.

    • Resident Joel “Joe” Danshes asked whether the Town could increase revenue by leasing space for a cellular tower on the water tower.

    Verizon already has a lease with Artesian on the water tower, and also with South Bethany for a support building.

    “AT&T would have to do the same, and there’s really not enough room for another support building,” Cusick said.

    Sharp Energy also has a lease with South Bethany, for propane.

    “We receive money from all of that. If we had another water tower — you’re right, we’d lease that, because it’s good income,” Cusick said.

    • Surrounded by his family, Al Allenspach was honored for his 11 years on the Board of Adjustment.

    “One of the things I feel best about is the professionalism of all those people on the board and how they treated the various people who were having appeals” despite some rather testy appeals, Allenspach said. “We came out of it as friends, and one of the things that we always tried to do in that committee is be objective and keep that lovely little community [as is].”

    The next regular Town Council meeting is Friday, Aug. 14, at 7 p.m.

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    Coastal Point • File Photo  : Investigators have ruled the fire that gutted Pomeroy’s to have been intentionally set.Coastal Point • File Photo : Investigators have ruled the fire that gutted Pomeroy’s to have been intentionally set.

    The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s office announced on Aug. 4 that the July 27 blaze that gutted Pomeroy’s Tavern was arson.

    The Selbyville bar and package store has stood for 90 years near the state line on North Dupont Boulevard, built just after Route 113 was laid.

    As the law-enforcement agency for all fires, Fire Marshal’s Office investigators have since determined that the blaze was intentionally started. A criminal investigation is ongoing to identify and apprehend those responsible for the fire, officials said.

    Owner Lynn Pomeroy said his grandparents built the log cabin-style tavern in 1924, using cypress trees from the Great Cypress Swamp. The two-story building had undergone renovations for nearly a year, with the final permits pending, and drywall ready for the hanging.

    A passing motorist called the fire in. Pomeroy said that when police awoke his family at home, the fire was already spreading quickly.

    The Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company and three other fire companies responded at 5 a.m., with six secondary stations and five more on standby.

    Anyone with information regarding the arson is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at (800) TIP-3333. Callers do not have to reveal their identity.

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  • 08/07/15--08:40: Truitt resigns from council
  • Town still seeking solicitor

    Jesse Truitt resigned from the Frankford Town Council this week, following a discussion regarding hiring a new town solicitor and issues of conflict-of-interest that involved both the hiring of the solicitor and Truitt’s presence on the council.

    During the Aug. 3 meeting, Council President Joanne Bacon requested that the other council members explain an agenda item calling for the reorganization of the council.

    “When we interviewed the candidates for town solicitor, one candidate is your employer [Tim Willard, of Fuqua, Yori & Willard, P.A.], the other candidate was a Mr. [Richard] Goll,” Councilwoman Velicia Melson noted to Bacon.

    “It was very evident that your employer had a great deal of inside knowledge that Mr. Goll did not. There’s some discussion within town council members as to whether that presents a conflict-of-interest for the town and how that representation would be on a forward basis.”

    Melson said she believed Willard was the better of the two candidates, given his experience.

    “We’re going to get more bang for our buck with him. I think there’s less of a learning curve. He has a great deal of knowledge with the senate and the workings of municipalities… But I do have some concern about the conflict-of-interest.”

    “I have a few questions, because I was not invited back to that meeting to discuss those issues and questions you had,” said Bacon, referencing the fact that she had left the special council meeting during which Willard was interviewed. “Can council explain to me what the conflict would be?”

    “How are you going to represent the Town, you working there?” responded Councilman Jesse Truitt.

    “Where would the conflict exist if he represents the town of which I am a sitting council member?” asked Bacon again. “I just want to know where the conflict would be. Other than the fact that I divulged that information… Because I received a phone call that I was asked to step down as president and take over [as] secretary/treasurer. Is that correct?”

    “That’s correct. But you’re looking at me like I’m the only one saying it,” said Truitt.

    Bacon said she was asking the question of all her fellow council members.

    “Where, again, is the conflict of me sitting in this chair instead of this chair? That’s my only question. I would still be a member of the council.”

    Melson suggested someone else on council serve as the liaison between the town solicitor and town council.

    “Because I think there are going to be conversations, just as there have been in the past, between the two of you pertaining to the Town that the rest of the town council is not privy to, and I do have a concern about that, because we are a unified town council… I think the information needs to be gathered as a team.”

    “I agree wholeheartedly…” said Bacon.

    “I made the suggestion that anything that had to go to the lawyer could be handed down to someone else if there was such a conflict,” said Councilwoman Pam Davis.

    “Again, I don’t understand what the conflict is,” said Bacon.

    Property owner Kathy Murray asked if the council understood the legal definition of “conflict-of-interest.”

    “I know there is a lot of work that needs to be done with the town attorney… but there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to move this town forward, and I’m not sure we as a town council have acted in the best interest of the town thus far this year,” said Melson. “We need somebody who is going to drive it … and drive it forward.”

    “Aren’t there more attorneys out there?” asked resident Greg Welch.

    “There are. But these are the two attorneys that Joanne vetted and brought to us,” responded Melson.

    Resident Marty Presley asked if communication with the town solicitor would be exclusively with the council president.

    Bacon said that any council member is free to speak with the town solicitor.

    “I can’t see any difference between Jesse and Terry,” said resident Dawn Beck of Truitt’s wife, Terry, who is employed as Frankford’s town administrator. “I mean — that’s a big difference compared to a lawyer…”

    “I’ve never [favored] her for anything,” said Truitt of his wife.

    “Jesse, you voted for the 2 percent gross receipt tax that directly affected her,” said property owner Robert Murray. “That directly affected her.”

    “I was a rental property owner,” said Jesse Truitt.

    After some back-and-forth that involved Truitt, he expressed his frustration.

    “Then leave! Then you should resign and get out,” responded Kathy Murray.

    “I’m not leaving until my term is up,” said Truitt.

    Council members’ contact with solicitor discussed

    Returning to the subject of the Town’s legal representation, Davis said that communication with the town solicitor wouldn’t have to go through Bacon.

    “We can all call — it doesn’t have to go through Joanne,” she said. “In six months, we have three seats coming up.”

    Resident Elizabeth Carpenter said she believed that, no matter who on council communicates with the town solicitor, the entire council should “be apprised of that conversation.”

    “Pam — just to use you as an example — if you were to have an issue and need to talk to the attorney, that conversation that you had one-on-one should be documented and disbursed to all council members, because — to me, anyway — maybe there’s conflict of interest with you and the attorney that nobody knows about, just like people are saying there could be with Joanne,” said Carpenter.

    “I think having communication across the board and involving everyone in all communication can get rid of perceived conflict of interest, no matter who the communication comes from,” Carpenter added.

    She also stated that she believed if one council member emails the town solicitor, the other members of council should be carbon-copied on the email exchange.

    “That’s what’s fair and right.”

    When asked for his opinion, Councilman Charles Shelton said the council was simply trying to come up with a solution to address their concerns.

    “We felt two people shouldn’t be working together if they were working for the Town in a situation like that. We felt something might slip out, and something else had slipped out before somewhere along the line, and we didn’t want that to happen again… We thought that it would be better to just reorganize the council.”

    Bacon stated that the council knew she was employed by his firm prior to Willard’s interview.

    “I think it’s almost unbelievable for this council to even imagine that Tim [Willard] still would not talk to you about an issue … regardless of what chair you sit in,” said Kathy Murray.

    Bacon said Willard was aware that the council had concerns regarding a conflict of interest.

    “[Willard] states there is no conflict based on the Delaware Code, based on our ordinance. However, he said since the council has expressed their concern about the appearance — it doesn’t have to be a conflict — he’s withdrawing his name as attorney for consideration.”

    Truitt resigns over assertions of conflict-of-interest

    “Can I make a suggestion? [Since] all of a sudden we have these new rules and regulations on nepotism, that we need to take a look at the elephant in the room,” said Presley.

    “It’s the appearance. It doesn’t mean there’s any wrongdoing being done, but the appearance of conflict-of-interest — nepotism certainly is one,” stated Bacon.

    “Just like Jesse and Terry. He says he’s not doing anything to help her, but it seems like he is, so what happens there now?” asked Beck.

    “Exactly,” said Bacon.

    “So which one of them steps down?” Beck asked.

    “One of them should step down,” said Kathy Murray.

    “You want me to resign?” said Jesse Truitt. “I’ll do it right now.”

    “I think you should,” responded Kathy Murray.

    “I’ll do it,” he said, standing from his seat, with some attendees applauding. “Tickled to death… I’m going tell the rest of you something — you need to pay your bills, because I’m going to come after you with a vengeance.”

    “Did you just threaten us with a police officer in here?” asked Beck.

    “You said you’re going to come after us,” said Robert Murray, as Truitt exited the meeting.

    Following the meeting, Truitt clarified his statement, saying he was not threatening anyone, but urging the council to go after citizens who owe the Town money.

    The council voted 4-0 to accept Truitt’s resignation. At the time of his resignation, Truitt had served the Town for more than 25 years, including on the council and as its president.

    Following his resignation, the council decided reorganization would not occur, as Willard had withdrawn his name for consideration as town solicitor, negating further concerns about conflict-of-interest.

    “You all lost a good person, because it made no difference what chair she sat in. So you’re all to fault for that…” said Kathy Murray.

    According to the Frankford town charter, Section 10, in the event of a resignation, the council will fill a council seat vacancy for the remainder of the entire term.

    “In the event of any such vacancy, a special meeting shall be called by the secretary, adhering to the notice requirements hereinbefore mentioned therefore, which special meeting held for the purpose of filling such vacancy shall be held within 45 days.”

    Council discusses citizen comments at meetings

    Later in the meeting, Bacon addressed the citizens and other taxpayers in attendance, to make a comment.

    “It has come to my attention that sometimes these meetings are getting a little out of hand, a little loud,” she said.

    “What I’m going to ask is that we have our meetings and we’re going to give the residents and taxpayers time to speak, but I want it to be at the time we have the citizens’ comments section, and if you keep it limited to three minutes, we would greatly appreciate it. Any questions or concerns you have that aren’t answered, please get a hold of one of the council members… I want to try to hold the meetings without a lot of interruption.”

    Later that evening, Melson suggested the council alter future agendas, so citizens’ privilege would be at the beginning of the town council’s meetings, not at the end.

    “If it’s only at the beginning, and we get to the point of unfinished business or new business, and we have a comment into some of the discussion… We’re now not allowed to speak at the end, have any input? I find that totally unfair and shutting the citizens out a very important time to share their viewpoints, if we don’t get to speak at the end,” said Kathy Murray.

    “On new business, if you’ve already talked about it and we have a different perspective and it’s valid… I just think that’s a major flaw in the council.”

    Melson said she believed having the comment period at the beginning of the meeting would give citizens the best opportunity to make their opinions heard by council, prior to any votes occurring.

    “We’ve tried at the beginning of the meeting. We’ve tried at the end of the meeting. To me, the end of the meeting is not productive, because some of the votes have already taken place and you haven’t necessarily had an opportunity to voice your opinion.”

    “Why not have a limited one at the beginning for old business and one at the end for new business?” suggested Presley.

    Melson said that any items citizens wish to discuss before council that are not on the agenda have been placed on the agenda when requested.

    Shelton said those citizens would be granted time beyond the three-minute time limit placed on citizens’ privilege; however, they would not have unlimited time.

    Melson motioned that a citizen placed on the agenda for a specific subject be entitled to speak on that agenda item, in proper order, in a timely manner, and the council will take their comments under advisement. The council voted in agreement unanimously.

    In the future, the citizen who wishes to be placed on the agenda will have their name next to the agenda item.

    “Let’s assume that you guys are having a conversation about something that I did not request to be placed on the agenda,” said Robbie Murray, “but maybe I have some knowledge or I have an opinion of that, and you’re getting ready to take a vote. Are you saying, at that point there is no way for anyone from the town to give their opinion until the end, since we didn’t request that that be on the agenda?”

    “Under Robert’s Rules, that would be accurate,” said Melson.

    “What is the purpose of the citizens being here?” he asked. “To me, it would seem that I would want their input prior to taking a vote. I agree that, at some times, it seems to get out of hand, but if I’m sitting in your seat, I want to know how these people feel or how I feel, or I want to know if I’m getting ready to do something that’s potentially illegal.”

    Kathy Murray said the council had stated they didn’t have human resource experience; but that it appeared counterintuitive to not seek their opinions when voting on items affecting the town.

    “You’ve got some folks out here that do and understand HR law. I would think you would want us to say something.”

    “I think it’s the job of the president to maintain control. And if it starts to get out of hand, as it has in the past, you go, ‘That’s enough. We’re going to move on past this.’ We’re spending too much time trying to shut people up, instead of embracing that conversation, and it becomes confrontational… To say you have to speak before the meeting — well, I have no idea what your opinions are before the meeting. So, therefore, I can’t even rebut anything...”

    Welch also stated that the agenda is too vague to give the citizens a real opportunity to comment on agenda items.

    “The way the agenda is written — ‘water tower.’ What are you going to say about the water tower? … For me to say something about it before you first telling us what it means or what you’re talking about — it really limits us to what you’re talking about… You might be talking about what color you’re going to paint it. It’s limited.”

    “I want to listen to the residents and the taxpayers,” said Bacon. “And sometimes it gets out of hand. It does.”

    Truitt said that, if the council were to look at other municipalities’ agendas, there is a clarification of intent.

    “For example, ‘review and consider a possible vote to cover water-tower maintenance.’ I’m just giving an example,” she said, adding that the future town solicitor may be able to give the council better guidance.

    “That would’ve been nice to have done prior to these meetings, with Velicia doing the agendas... some guidance on that,” said Bacon.

    Davis said that, if the council is going to vote in an item, the public’s input needs to be given prior to a vote.

    Warchol suggested the town investigate Robert’s Rules of Order further, as well as contact other municipalities.

    “A little bit of research, and you might be able to make everyone happy.”

    Davis said she would research and report back to the council.

    Committee to look into town manager

    During the meeting, Kathy Murray told the council she believes a town manager needs to be hired to help run the Town.

    “After attending the council meetings for over a year, it’s apparent that this town needs to hire a town manager. The current council clearly lacks the knowledge that it takes to oversee budget planning. It’s evident by passing and approving consecutive flawed budgets.

    “The impression given is that you do what you’re told without independent questioning or thinking. Several of you never ask questions relative to the Town’s day-to-day operations, budgets, et cetera. There’s no experience in managing employees. Again, the impression is you believe everything you hear and you just go along with it,” said Kathy Murray.

    “I believe if you clearly understood the ramifications of what you are agreeing to, things in this town would be quite different. As a result, the five of you are responsible for the current problems in this town.”

    She stated that the council should seriously consider hiring a town manager who has knowledge in areas including personnel administration, accounting, financial principles, audit principles, office management, contract negations, et cetera.

    “This list could go on and on,” said Murray. “I don’t see any of you possess all those skills or even enough of those skills to effectively manage this Town. I would suggest a small committee be formed to develop a job description and assist in the interviewing process, since the impression the council has left is that there is little to no knowledge concerning these responsibilities, and therefore need assistance in the interviewing… I would suggest you do not wait to proceed with this.”

    Murray said the position could be paid for if the Town were to expand gross receipt taxation to include all businesses.

    “A salary could easily be paid for with this new fee,” she said.

    Melson and Bacon both agreed with Murray that a town manager is something the Town should look into and stated they would serve on a committee to explore a town manager position. Skip Ash, Marty Presley and Murray said they, too, would serve on the committee. Its first meeting will be Aug. 11, at 7 p.m. at the Frankford fire hall.

    Citizens discusses audit/budget

    Bacon stated that the budget, which was approved on July 13, would need to be amended to correct the operating budget’s transfer area, which had $29,210 being transferred out from both the General Fund budget expenditures and Water budget expenditures.

    “You were right,” said Bacon to Welch, who had voiced his concerns about the operating transfer section at prior meetings regarding the 2016 budget.

    “There are issues with the budget that do need to be amended,” she later stated.

    Melson and Bacon said they would be meeting with one of the Town’s auditors, from Jefferson, Urian, Doane & Sterner P.A. (JUDS) to discuss the issue and how to correct it.

    During her town administrator’s report, Truitt said accountants from JUDS would be in town hall for the next two weeks, conducting a field audit.

    Murray stated she would “debate this whole issue of an audit.”

    “The cover letter of each preparation/financial statement that is prepared by the accountant clearly states that they do not conduct an audit and they do not validate internal controls,” she said. “By that statement, to say they’re coming in for a field audit is a misrepresentation. I’m not sure what they do, but I also have audit experience, and by reading that cover letter and them stating that, they are legally protecting themselves, stating they have not conducted an audit.

    “I don’t know what they’re doing for the next two weeks. I don’t know, but I can guarantee you it is not an audit in the [usual] sense of an audit. Yet, repeatedly, the verbiage ‘audit’ is used. It is reported in the minutes, giving representation that the Town has conducted an audit, and this Town has not undergone an audit, because they have legally protected themselves by that cover statement.”

    Melson said the council had looked into an external forensic audit, but was quoted a cost of $400 to $500 per hour for the work.

    “I’m not sure who did the research on auditing, on a true auditor coming in, but I can assure you — I don’t know who quoted $400 an hour, but I know auditors, I know audit teams, I know financial audit organizations, and the ones I know do not charge $400 an hour. I’m not sure who quoted who $400 an hour… I don’t think they wanted the job. I think they quoted that figure to scare you off…” said Murray.

    “I would be willing to work with anyone to get them names of auditors and audit groups that understand financials, understand QuickBooks and understand internal controls… It’s not just the software that’s being used. It’s more about knowing what to look for. How to come in, look at procedures, look at internal controls and to look at things over a period of time — look at practices.”

    Later, Murray asked the council how many hours a week the town’s police officers work at the water plant.

    “Why is 25 percent of the police chief and 25 percent of the police officer hours and salary charged back to the water plant? … Twenty hours a week, their hours are charged back to the water plant,” she said. “If they do not do anything in support of the water plant, zero hours should be charged back to them. When you have two full-time officers, that’s 80 hours a month charged to the water plant.”

    Murray said 64 hours per week worked by town employees is coming out of the revenue collected from the water plant.

    “Those chargeback hours increase the cost of water per gallon. The water plant is supposed to be self-sufficient. This is part of the reason why Frankford’s water price per gallon is higher than surrounding areas.”

    In June, the council held a workshop at which a draft employee handbook created by Bacon was given to the council members.

    At that meeting, Welch asked if citizens could review the draft handbook, as well.

    “Not at the present time,” Bacon had said at the June 15 workshop.

    “I think at this point it’s too early,” said Melson.

    Since June, the council has not held a workshop regarding the handbook; however, Bacon recommended forming a committee with residents and taxpayers who have experience with human resources “that could give us some guidance.”

    A committee was formed, led by Davis, with Kathy Murray and Robbie Murray volunteering to serve. The committee will meet on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. in the fire hall.

    In other Town news:

    • Following an executive session, the council voted unanimously to extend an offer to a candidate who applied for the vacant police officer position. They instructed Frankford Police Chief Michael Warchol to extend the offer, noting that the candidate would not be offered a take-home vehicle.

    • As the Town is without an attorney, following the March resignation of former solicitor Dennis Schrader, the council said they do not wish to pursue taking action on the issue of water tower maintenance until the Town has secured new legal counsel.

    “Some things are going to have to remain as they are for the time being, until we get an attorney to be able to review binding legal contracts.”

    Melson offered to contact Schrader to see if he would be willing to review the contracts for the Town.

    “It doesn’t hurt,” said Melson, stating she would call him that week.

    • The Town plans to hold a Fall Festival on Oct. 31 and is seeking residents who are interested in volunteering their time to help plan and execute the event.

    • A park/tree lighting ceremony will be held Nov. 28 to kick off Christmas in the Park, which will be held on Wednesdays through the month of December and give area kids the chance to meet Santa before Christmas Eve.

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    In this modern age, spies caught in the act in the United States generally are sentenced to long prison terms. During the Civil War years, however, spies — real or suspected — almost always ended up at the end of rope.

    Two of the most celebrated espionage cases in the mid-19th century conflict were that of Timothy Webster and Sam Davis. Webster was a secret agent in Richmond who was exposed while in the employ of the Northern spymaster Allen Pinkerton. Corey Recko described his life as a spy and death on the gallows in “A Spy for the Union.”

    Davis was a member of the 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment who volunteered for a newly-formed company of scouts and agents in the service of Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg. Federal forces captured him couriering documents that described Union battle plans. When Davis refused to divulge the name of his contact, he received a sentence of death by hanging, carried out on Nov. 27, 1863.

    In one of the strange coincidences during the Civil War, another soldier named Sam Davis served as a spy for the Confederacy and received the death sentence. Lt. Samuel Boyer Davis was a Delawarean from New Castle County.

    At Gettysburg, while serving as member of Maj. Gen. Isaac Trimble’s staff, Davis was wounded and captured, but managed to escape from a hospital in Chester, Pa., where he had been recovering After working his way back into the South, Davis received an assignment at the infamous Andersonville Prison in Georgia.

    While on a visit to Richmond in 1864, Davis met Sgt. Harry Hall Brogden, a member of the clandestine Confederate Signal Corps. Brogden was a “secret line” facilitator who covertly shuttled agents, contraband, newspapers and mail between North and South across the Potomac River. He was on assignment to carry important documents through the North into Canada, where the Rebels had established a base to conduct special operations into the U.S.

    Wanting a break from his assignment at Andersonville, Davis volunteered to take Brogden’s place on this hazardous journey northward. In “Spies of the Confederacy,” John Bakeless relates that Davis crossed the Potomac from Virginia along the secret line route to Pope’s Creek, Md., then continued on to Washington, D.C.

    Along the way, he learned the unsettling news that authorities were on the lookout for an agent carrying secret documents. Nonetheless, Davis’ travels took him to Ohio and then Detroit, Mich., before safely crossing the river into Windsor, Ontario.

    Having completed his mission, Samuel Davis agreed to return to Richmond with messages for officials in Richmond. Some he memorized, but others were written on the white silk lining of his coat sleeves.

    One consideration that Davis did not take into account during his trip back into the U.S. was his former service at Andersonville. Ironically, while he was traveling by train through Ohio, Union soldiers who had spent time at Andersonville recognized Davis and confronted him. He at first denied his identity but finally admitted who he was.

    Arrested by a poorly-trained provost marshal in Newark, Ohio, Davis had ample opportunity to dispose of the documents he was carrying, as well as the silk lining inscribed with telltale messages. Nonetheless, he faced a court martial in Cincinnati as an enemy officer in disguise and received a death sentence.

    Scheduled for execution on Feb. 17, 1865, at the prison on Johnson’s Island in Lake Erie near Sandusky, Ohio, Davis learned unofficially that he would receive a reprieve. President Abraham Lincoln himself had sent a telegram meant to save the condemned man’s life, but his ambiguous wording was misinterpreted to mean the sentence was to be carried out.

    Davis watched from his cell as gallows were under construction. The morning he was to climb those steps, crowds gathered to witness the execution. He watched the rope being tested, and a band practiced the “Dead March.” At the last minute, however, the prison commander arrived to inform Davis, “I have a commutation for you.” The courageous young man who had been reconciled to his fate simply replied, “I am glad to hear it, sir.”

    Samuel Boyer Davis would spend time in prison at Fort Delaware and Fort Warren in Boston. He regained his freedom upon release in December 1865, after the Civil War had ended.

    Twenty years later, Davis paid a visit to Cincinnati, to Maj. Lewis E. Bond, the man who served as judge advocate at his court martial. The two former adversaries had a friendly chat, and Bond curiously asked Davis about the mission that had led to his arrest and incarceration. However, Davis reportedly remained true to his secret service oath and maintained his silence.

    For his service to the South, Davis’ name is inscribed on the Confederate monument in Georgetown.

    Thomas J. Ryan is the author of “Spies, Scouts & Secrets in the Gettysburg Campaign,” a History Book Club selection available at Bethany Beach Books. Contact him at, or visit his website

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    Coastal Point • Submitted­­­: Chuck Schonder, center, recently received a Volunteer of the Year award from Gov. Jack Markell, left, and DNREC Secretary David Small.Coastal Point • Submitted­­­: Chuck Schonder, center, recently received a Volunteer of the Year award from Gov. Jack Markell, left, and DNREC Secretary David Small.

    The grassroots effort to restore a local waterfront park is getting attention, as Charles “Chuck” Schonder recently received a state volunteer award for founding Friends of Holts Landing State Park.

    The Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC) annually honors its vast network of unpaid helpers by naming Volunteers of the Year.

    At the 2015 Delaware State Fair, Gov. Jack Markell and DNREC Secretary David Small presented awards in 10 categories, including Schonder’s winning category of Administration & Coordination.

    “He is … a staunch promoter of volunteering, trail-day creator, scout recruiter and steering-committee member,” according to DNREC.

    Other awards ranged from business partners to educators and friends groups (Trap Pond volunteers won the latter).

    “We really depend on those folks to support us and work with us on our programs and project,” said DNREC’s Joanna Wilson, which, she said, is why the awards “recognize those who really go above and beyond.”

    Schonder was nominated by Lee Temby, volunteer coordinator for Delaware Seashore State Park.

    “Frankly, I was shocked,” Schonder said of the honor, noting that other friends groups are “a lot more formed and active than Holts, so that really surprised me when we had won an award.

    “It’s humbling,” Schonder said. “All I could think of when they were handing me the award were the people who worked on this. One person walks up there,” representing so many, he said.

    He and Friends cofounder Bob Chin first became concerned about the lack of public boating access on the south side of the Indian River Bay.

    “We were concerned that the average person, who couldn’t belong to a club or have it built into their residence somehow, would be priced out, and that they wouldn’t have access,” Schonder said. “That was our first concern that got us to Holts. Then, when we got out there, we were surprised by all the natural resources that were unattended.”

    First, they asked how to make a change. Then they had a Friends charter signed by October of 2014.

    Though 50 years old this year, Holts Landing is off the beaten path, near Millville, and doesn’t get the visitors (and, therefore, the funding) of bigger parks, such as Cape Henlopen State Park. But the Friends are bringing the labor, love and voice that Holts needs to last another 50 years and more.

    Currently, they’re cleaning up the trails, moving some to higher ground, improving signage and providing other labor and legwork.

    They also hope to “open up” the waterfront.

    “It’s all overgrown on the shoreline. There’s not a good view of the bay — one of the key features of the park — because it’s all overgrown,” said Schonder. “We have a gorgeous beach on the western end … which has just receded quite a bit.”

    Certainly, this is a delicate area, but with scientific guidance, “we hope to open up some of that scrub and get a view of the bay,” he said.

    After organizing Family Fun Nights (the last of which is Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m.) this summer, the Friends are planning more activities for next summer.

    “Local superintendent Doug Long has been wonderfully supportive,” said Schonder, “taking us through all the ropes … and the different hoops to jump through.”

    He also thanked Lãf Erickson (the trail events coordinator) and the late Ron Kernahan, “a wonderful guide and wonderful outdoorsman” who passed away in June after bringing the Cape Henlopen friends group’s expertise to Holts Landing.

    Trail maintenance will be the second Saturday of each month at 9 a.m., resuming in October. To volunteer, contact Schonder at (703) 881-2491 or

    “We have all levels of need … for the trail days. It’s a very fun activity. You can do it at whatever physical level you choose to do it at,” Schonder said.

    Volunteers can be students or senior citizens or anywhere in between. They’ll brew coffee, carry equipment, swing a hammer or saw through trees.

    DNREC sponsors a variety of volunteer opportunities year-round. Volunteers of all ages can adopt wetlands, count horseshoe crabs, remove invasive plants, plant beach grass, check water quality, clean up beaches, monitor wildlife species, teach boating safety classes, maintain park trails, give history tours and more. Learn more online at or

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    How long does it take to approve a 30-page draft zoning ordinance? About 25 minutes (plus or minus a year).

    The Millville Town Council unanimously approved a zoning overhaul during one of their shortest meetings of the year, on Aug. 11. A committee of council members, Town staff and others spent months writing a draft, which the Planning & Zoning Commission had reviewed for several more months.

    “The Town of Millville adopted the most recent version of its zoning code probably about 10 years ago,” said town engineer Kyle Gulbronson of URS. “[The review was] based on the development trends in town … and stuff the council has found problematic.”

    From lot sizes to setbacks, Gulbronson emphasized the council’s desire to make as many properties as possible compliant. The new numbers will make more lots conforming to the code. He recommended future reviews every five to 10 years.

    In all, changes were made to the following sections of Chapter 155:

    • Article V — Application of District Regulations (§155-8 Applicability of Zoning Regulations;

    • Article VI — District Regulations, §155-9 AR-Agriculture Residential District, §155-10 R-Residential District, §155-13 C1-Route 26 Corridor/Town Center Commercial District and §155-14 C2-Town Commercial District);

    • Article VII — Supplementary District Regulations (§155-28 Off-Street Parking by adding C. Design standards for parking areas);

    • Article X — Conditional Uses (§155-49 Conditional uses enumerated); and

    • Article XIV — Terminology.

    “One of the most significant changes of the ordinance is the shift from special-use exceptions to a broader array of conditional uses,” said Seth Thompson, town solicitor.

    The C1 shopping district was renamed “Town Center Commercial District,” since it won’t just be limited to the Route 26 corridor anymore.

    “I think it’s something that’s overdue. … I think it clears up a lot of issues,” said Councilman Bob Gordon, although he acknowledged he was trying to understand a few minor details about the commercial districts.

    “Anything that is permitted C1 is permitted in C2. Then there are additional permitted uses that are permitted in C2,” Thompson explained.

    The council confirmed that removing appliance repair shops from the ordinance was intentional.

    In other news, planning has begun for the Great Pumpkin Festival, this year to be held on Route 17.

    The Millville Farmers’ Market continues on Thursday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon until Sept. 10, at Millville Fire Hall.

    The next town council workshop is Tuesday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m.

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    Reader questions public comments


    I understand that Don Hattier is a respected community leader and offers his wisdom and skills both as a practicing chiropractor, a proud member of the IRSD Board, an active volunteer at the Cape Henlopen Fort Miles restoration and events.

    However, Tuesday morning, while on air at WXDE-105.9 FM, he was asked by the host about the selection of the new school board member chosen at Monday night’s meeting. He was extremely complimentary to her and included among her outstanding qualities: highly knowledgeable about special education, being conservative and holding christian values.

    Don Hattier was speaking for the school board at the time, because he prefaced his comments by noting that “we” the board met last night and he decided he could divulge the information Tuesday early morning, since she had most likely already been contacted and told.

    I realize that to most of those born, raised and/or living here, conservative, christian values are held in esteem. But then there are those of us who are not conservative, nor christian. Is there still no recognition that church and state are separated by law? Is the ACLU victory a forgotten memory? Is the “war chest” built back up to overturn the Supreme Court?

    Is there still no respect here for the human beings who are our neighbors, patients, friends and customers who do not hold conservative, christian values?

    I suppose I should have capitalized certain words or used the term doctor for the doctor; it would have been respectful, which is a quality that none of those referred to herein have shown in return.

    Jeffrey Chandross

    Reader suggests sign at intersection


    At the intersection of Jefferson Bridge Road and Coastal Highway is one of the most dangerous crossings in Bethany Beach — specifically the right turn off of Jefferson Bridge onto Coastal Highway. When the light is green for the cars on Jefferson, it is also when the “Walk” sign comes on for pedestrians crossing Coastal Highway.

    Again this morning a woman came flying (turning right) onto Coastal Highway as I was crossing on my bike. She did not even look (because her light is green) but still she was in the wrong! She had to slam on her brakes to not hit me and then threw her hands in the air like I was the one in the wrong.

    This happens daily! I can understand it to a certain degree… because their light is green. Something needs to be done! Maybe a sign stating, “Use caution when turning right on green. Pedestrians in the Crosswalk”?

    Somebody is going to get hit! And badly! At the speed she was turning, I would have been badly hurt!

    Elaine Fisk
    Bethany Beach

    LBWC thankful for great support


    The Lord Baltimore Women’s Club sincerely thanks all you who purchased tickets to our Oct. 7, 2015, Fashion Show. For the second year in a row, we are sold out. We hope to have a larger venue next year to accommodate all of you who were unable to attend this one. Again, thank you for this sold-out year, as our scholarship fund will be able to continue to provide students with much-needed resources.

    Lord Baltimore Women’s Club

    Mais thankful for support in election


    I would like to thank my family, friends and voters for their support and help in the recent Fenwick Island Town Council election.

    Congratulations to all the candidates and voters for giving Fenwick Island a choice.

    Thanks to the Election Commission and the staff of the Town of Fenwick Island for organizing a smooth and fair election with lots of voters!

    I look forward to working with Town Council and our residents as we address and tackle the issues facing us.

    Richard Mais
    Fenwick Island

    HOA wants their gates to remain


    We Ocean Way Estates residents would like to inform you about our conflict with the County.

    This conflict began in 2011. Mrs. Katherine “Kitty” Cole, mother of Councilman George B. Cole, purchase two lots in our community in 2001. She, like all the other residents, received a gate card allowing her to drive from Section 1 and 2, to Section 3. The gates are there to control excessive pass-through traffic, keeping our community safer, quieter, and saving wear and tear on the roads, the upkeep for which we are responsible.

    These gates have worked very well for us for over 20 years, without incident. Kitty Cole did not like our traffic control, and suddenly the County Planning & Zoning started sending letters to Berzins Enterprises to remove all gates! The gates do not restrict or deny residents access to their property.

    The request to remove all gates became threats from the County attorney, Vincent Robertson. Berzins’ then had to respond through their attorney. This eventually led to Mr. Robertson meeting with Lawrence Lank, Tim Willard, Ray Berzins and Robert Christian at our gates in Ocean Way Estates.

    A solution was proposed by Mr. Lank. In December 2014, we had a hearing with Planning & Zoning where our proposal, as suggested by Mr. Lank, was unanimously approved! Mr. Vincent Robinson was present at that meeting and raised objections.

    Since then, the plans have been presented to Planning & Zoning for final approval — all criteria has been met. Mr. Cole has once again stepped in, objecting to the final approval, even though Shane Abbot (P&Z) also gave us his same final approval of the concept. Yet, somehow it is being put on hold. It appears that Mr. Cole wants more litigation. Spending more time and money for what, we ask?

    The precedent for communities to handle their own affairs is longstanding in our county. Many communities, including Mr. Cole’s own, have blocked-off roads or rerouted traffic due to unforeseen problems with traffic patterns.

    Our concern and question to this council is this: How much of the taxpayer dollars are being spent on this issue when over 200 Ocean Way Estates residents have signed a petition and submitted it to the County to keep our gates?

    We are all extremely anxious over this, as it affects us on a very personal level. Children and grandchildren ride their bikes here, we walk our dogs and try to drive slowly. The gates help us preserve this lifestyle and level of safety. Our community is a group of mostly fixed-income and many retired folks. Moving and maintaining new gates would place an undue hardship on us. Losing them would be devastating.

    The Coles do not live in our community and probably never will. To understand how critical this issue is to our wellbeing, one must reside here.

    Please help us get our final approval and stop spending our own tax dollars against us.

    Robert Christian, President
    Ocean Way Estates HOA

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    Coastal Point • Submitted  : A second Little Free Library just opened in South Bethany, providing more opportunities for people to have access to books. Coastal Point • Submitted : A second Little Free Library just opened in South Bethany, providing more opportunities for people to have access to books.

    Imagine a medium-sized wooden box, standing outdoors on a pole, in all kinds of weather. Inside, two-dozen portals can whisk people away to new worlds, from the mysterious to the fantastic.

    This box is the Little Free Library (LFL), and it just got a second location in South Bethany.

    “It’s been up 10 days, and it’s very active,” said Sue Callaway, town council member and Community Enhancement Committee chair. “It went along with the whole idea of enhancing Ocean Drive.”

    Dedicated on July 30, Little Free Library East is located on a major pedestrian route, at the corner of S. 3rd Street and Ocean Drive.

    “Once we realized how successful the one in the west was, we began planning,” Callaway explained, noting that Frank Weisgerber, who is now a council member, had offered to build another one on the east side.

    Adults and children are encouraged to borrow a book from the library, eventually returning it or another good read. It all works on the honor system — no library cards or signatures required.

    Instructions for sharing books can be found at the LFL, as well as on bookmarks donated by the South Bethany Police Department.

    Callaway said she had never heard of the international LFL movement until Lori Cicero brought the idea to the CEC last summer. The LFL West opened on Evergreen Road less than a year ago.

    “Now that I am [familiar with it], I notice them in other communities,” Callaway said, from the west coast to Minneapolis and Lewes.

    “It fits in perfectly,” said Callaway. “You can see it’s very walker-, biker-friendly. We sort of call it a promenade. … It really speaks to what Ocean Drive is. It’s a place where people walk their dogs and … themselves.”

    Plus, it’s right on the way to the beach. People can find a favorite author or discover a new favorite book.

    “We’re certainly not competing with the big [South] Coastal Library, but it’s a neat thing to do and it’s fun” to see kids find a new book, Callaway said.

    John and Martha Fields volunteered to be the LFL East stewards, ensuring the box is full of quality materials.

    “We’re really pleased,” Callaway said. “It’s a fun thing, a nice little addition to the town.”

    According to, Delaware has a dozen other LFL locations. The entire world has about 15,000.

    Books donations are welcome. For the LFL East, they can be delivered to Martha Fields, 5 Kewanee Street. For the LFL West, they can be delivered to Lori Cicero, 311 W. 2nd Street. In both drop-off locations, the donations can just be left by the front door.

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    The Indian River School District has made a series of adjustments to its daily school schedules for the 2015-2016 school year. IRSD officials said the minor modifications are the result of the school day being extended by four minutes to compensate for possible weather-related cancellations. The daily starting and ending times for each school have changed slightly from last year.

    The district will continue to utilize a tiered transportation system under which schools will be divided into “First Start” and “Second Start” categories, with different starting and ending times for each group.

    The school day for “First Start” schools will run from 7:40 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. Buses will arrive at the school between 7:20 and 7:30 a.m. and depart about 2:50 p.m. Schools in that group are Sussex Central High School, Indian River High School, Georgetown Middle School, Millsboro Middle School, Selbyville Middle School, Phillip C. Showell Elementary School, North Georgetown Elementary School and East Millsboro Elementary School.

    The school day for “Second Start” schools will run from 8:30 a.m. until 3:35 p.m. Buses will arrive between 8:10 and 8:20 a.m. and depart about 3:41 p.m. Schools in that group are Georgetown Elementary School, Georgetown Kindergarten Center, Lord Baltimore Elementary School, Long Neck Elementary School and John M. Clayton Elementary School.

    Special schools in the district will have separate starting and ending times. Those times are as follows: Howard T. Ennis School, 7:55 a.m. to 3:05 p.m.; G.W. Carver Academy, 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.; and Southern Delaware School of the Arts, 8:05 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

    Implementing the tiered system and creating unified starting and ending times has reduced bus overcrowding, compensated for enrollment growth and allowed buses to serve more than one school, officials said.

    In addition, extending the school day by four minutes is expected to continue to help the district compensate for weather-related cancellations. The extra minutes are designed to provide flexibility in determining make-up days related to weather closings or other changes to the school calendar. Last year, 16 minutes were added to the school day, and the extra instructional time made it possible for the district to compensate for seven weather cancelations without adding days to the end of the year.

    The changes will take effect when the 2015-2016 school year begins on Tuesday, Sept. 8, for K-12 students. Preschool programs, including Project Village and TOTS, will begin on Monday, Sept. 14.

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