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Articles on this Page
- 07/12/18--15:08: _Carper visits Betha...
- 07/12/18--15:13: _Selbyville Towne Vi...
- 07/12/18--15:17: _Ocean View resident...
- 07/12/18--15:19: _Bridge project to d...
- 07/12/18--15:32: _Millville grants si...
- 07/12/18--15:34: _Candidates abound i...
- 07/12/18--15:35: _Vote expected on Ba...
- 07/16/18--16:57: _BREAKING NEWS: Two ...
- 07/19/18--09:03: _Delaware garden clu...
- 07/19/18--09:09: _Year’s first findin...
- 07/19/18--10:41: _Freeman Stage to ho...
- 07/19/18--10:43: _Bethany Beach Books...
- 07/19/18--11:28: _MERR volunteers to ...
- 07/19/18--11:54: _Beach & Bay Cottage...
- 07/19/18--12:12: _Friends ready for 2...
- 07/19/18--12:20: _Conlon honored as D...
- 07/19/18--12:33: _South Bethany woman...
- 07/19/18--12:38: _Arlett invites vete...
- 07/19/18--13:09: _DPH issues warning ...
- 07/19/18--13:11: _Dagsboro approves p...
- 07/19/18--13:13: _Juggling the unwant...
- 07/20/18--08:55: _Magee files for cou...
- 07/20/18--08:57: _Sitework begins on ...
- 07/20/18--09:00: _DSP trooper bridges...
- 07/20/18--09:03: _Dagsboro’s Connor f...
- 07/20/18--09:05: _South Bethany consi...
- 07/20/18--09:06: _Mountaire Selbyvill...
- 07/20/18--09:11: _Two men die in susp...
- 07/12/18--14:28: _Loggerhead sea turt...
- 07/12/18--14:36: _Volunteers count on...
- 07/12/18--15:08: Carper visits Bethany Beach to see replenishment project
- 07/12/18--15:13: Selbyville Towne Village gets first approvals to dig (ditches)
- 07/12/18--15:17: Ocean View residents still concerned over drainage, taxes
- 07/12/18--15:32: Millville grants site approval for revised Dove Landing community
- 07/12/18--15:34: Candidates abound in 2018 elections, local and beyond
- 07/12/18--15:35: Vote expected on Barn Hill Preserve application next week
- 07/19/18--09:03: Delaware garden clubs recognized nationally
- 07/19/18--09:09: Year’s first finding of West Nile virus in wild birds reported
- 07/19/18--10:41: Freeman Stage to host ‘Jedi Academy’ variety show
- 07/19/18--10:43: Bethany Beach Books to welcome young-adult fantasy author and artist
- 07/19/18--11:54: Beach & Bay Cottage Tour homes for 2018
- 07/19/18--12:12: Friends ready for 27th Annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour
- 07/19/18--12:20: Conlon honored as Delaware Marine of the Year
- 07/19/18--12:33: South Bethany woman, 102, meets great-great-granddaughter
- 07/19/18--13:09: DPH issues warning over Dagsboro fox discovered to have rabies
- 07/19/18--13:11: Dagsboro approves preliminary proposal for new Royal Farms
- 07/19/18--13:13: Juggling the unwanted discovery of eco-friendly species
- 07/20/18--08:55: Magee files for county council seat
- 07/20/18--08:57: Sitework begins on Sandhill Fields sports complex near Georgetown
- 07/20/18--09:00: DSP trooper bridges communication gap with foreign students
- 07/20/18--09:03: Dagsboro’s Connor files for 41st District seat in state legislature
- 07/20/18--09:05: South Bethany considers stricter property maintenance code
- 07/20/18--09:06: Mountaire Selbyville chemical spill closes road, injures six
- 07/20/18--09:11: Two men die in suspected overdose, another saved by naloxone
- 07/12/18--14:28: Loggerhead sea turtle makes history with South Bethany nest
- 07/12/18--14:36: Volunteers count on spawning crabs
Bulldozers headed to South Bethany this week, with that town set as the next stop in this summer’s major beach replenishment project.
After several weeks of pumping sand from offshore borrow sites, the Great Lake Dock & Dredge Company was set to continue south to replenish South Bethany’s shoreline on July 5, just slightly behind schedule, with an estimated completion date of July 29.
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper visited the moving construction site on June 29, one of the final days of the Bethany Beach leg of the project, which this week saw the start of dune crossing and dune fencing restoration.
As has been the case in Bethany, the beach in South Bethany will have continuous, but rolling, closures of up to 1,000 feet at a time as the beach and dunes are re-sculpted. The public may not enter the beach or swim in the construction zones.
Delaware’s project is an average-sized project, said Bryan Dast, project manager for Great Lakes.
Every project is challenging, but the nearby crowds are a unique piece of the puzzle, Dast said. Although he enjoys curious passers-by asking questions, he emphasized that he also needs them to keep off this active construction site.
“Always stay clear of it. It is an active construction zone. Lots of heavy equipment,” said Dast.
The project involves dredging 1.2 million cubic yards of sand from borrow sites several miles offshore. Unfortunately for this year’s renourishment, the underwater sand stores don’t seem to be replenishing themselves, staff said. In fact, Bethany’s site was exhausted early, so they were already pulling from Fenwick’s borrow site.
The sand is loosely filtered before entering the pipes, then pumped through another filtration cage before draining on the beach and being graded into a dune and berm template that was engineered before the first major reconstruction was begun.
So far, the 24/7 project has only needed to stop a few times, for a few hours. If bad weather struck, the sailing vessels would seek safe harbor, such as in the Delaware Bay.
Costs for the $17.2 million project were split 65/35 between the federal and state governments.
Ultimately, officials noted, everyone could save money if the projects weren’t so piecemeal. For instance, when nourishment occurred in late 2017 in Ocean City, Md., the Delaware project had already been announced. These neighboring coastlines are both managed by different offices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Baltimore and Philadelphia districts). Congress’s best bet for cost savings would be to treat larger chunks of the Atlantic Coast as one continuous region.
“Ad hoc is expensive,” said Carper, top Democrat on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee.
In addition, while the machinery is an interesting view and science project for some people, it also results in a disappointing lack of beach access for others. South Bethany was set to see that inconvenience move their way this week, with beach crossovers closed and pricey vacation homes now next door to heavy machinery.
Why did Delaware get stuck with the short end of the straw, with replenishment in the midst of Independence Day?
Dredging schedules are constantly being updated, Dast said. Plus, winter work is more likely to suffer weather delays. Dredging is also limited if it could impact animal migration routes.
On the positive side, the “soft structure” of an engineered sandy beach makes towns resilient against storms, said Ed Voight, Army Corps spokesperson.
But with mounting scientific reports saying the Delaware could be farther and farther underwater by the end of this century, at what point do people stop trying to rescue the sinking landmass?
Carper said that, with better environmental controls, such as fuel-efficient vehicles and wind energy, Delaware wouldn’t have to consider more drastic measures.
“At the end of the day, the cost to replace businesses would be more” than replenishment, Carper said of the dune protecting homes, expensive businesses and infrastructure.
The Bethany/South Bethany and Fenwick Island Coastal Storm Risk Management projects will continue for several weeks in each town, set to conclude by summer’s end.
Selbyville Towne Village is the next major housing development revving up along Route 54. The project has changed several times since first proposed over a decade ago, before the “Great Recession.” Now, developers are taking baby steps to at last get shovels in the ground for some basic ditch digging.
The 90-acre farmland site is located on the southwest side of Route 54 (Lighthouse Road) and Hudson Road.
The new site plans have not been submitted for town council approval, but they are collecting agency approvals and permits. Developers envision 182 housing units, including 120 some single-family homes and 53 multi-family units, with a commercial shopping center (construction phase one would include 35 singles and eight multis).
Because the project will take a long time, the developer requested to start moving soil on-site. Lots of dirt needs to be moved before construction begins on the old Dunn property. First, tax ditches must be in place, some being relocated or new ones dug. These are court-ordered changes to the Bunting Tax Ditch area. Owners hope to take advantage of summer’s dry weather for digging, and they’re just waiting for a judge to sign the order, any day now.
“We’re just looking to move earth right now,” not build or install infrastructure, water or sewer, said Mark Davidson, an associate vice president for Pennoni Associates, an architectural and engineering company.
They also hoped to coordinate entrance construction with Delaware Department of Transportation’s Route 54 paving project this month.
The Selbyville Town Council unanimously approved moving of soil (with Jay Murray absent). For now, the project shouldn’t affect a nearby Selbyville sewage pump station.
After the P&Z Commission frowned upon proposals to also build a FORGE Youth & Family Academy, the owner eliminated the youth center from his plans and moved forward. (FORGE has since found a new home in Pittsville, Md.)
In other Selbyville news:
• The town council unanimously approved the initial and final site plan, plus changes to the actual parcel, at the former Food Rite on Main Street. Leimbach Investments has demolished the car wash to build an 8,000-square-foot carpet business. The thrift shop and Food Rite buildings will remain.
Behind the roadside property, zoned historic business district, the second Leimbach property is zoned residential. After Selbyville completes the Town’s 10-year Comprehensive Plan update, Leimbach will request to change the zoning and then merge the two lots as historic business.
For now, the town council also OK’d zoning the property line between the two parcels to be shifted about 67 feet eastward, to allow for building with appropriate setbacks.
• Bid specifications have arrived for replacement of the Sandy Branch culvert, which began noticeably collapsing under Railroad Avenue three years ago. The Town will prepare to accept bids for repairs.
The next Selbyville Town Council meeting is Monday, Aug. 6, at 7 p.m.
The regular monthly meeting of the Ocean View Town Council this week continued a trend of seeing a larger-than-usual attendance of the town’s citizens, as several issues continue to garner input from townsfolk.
During the July 20 meeting, the council returned to discussion of a proposal from Avon Park resident Nicole Kelly, requesting the Town contribute approximately $6,000 to help pay for drainage work that would help eight parcels in the community.
Kelly received a proposal from the Sussex Conservation District (SCD) after contacting them about long-standing drainage issues in her development. The SCD suggested creating a catch basin that would take the water to the Deep Hole Tax Ditch. Through their cost-sharing program, SCD would pay $5,000 of the cost, but Avon Park would need to supply the balance.
Kelly said the Town’s financial support would be in line with their support in 2015, when they spent approximately $45,000 to address some of the neighborhood’s drainage issues.
“Your timely support is necessary at this time,” she said.
Ocean View Mayor Walter Curran praised Kelly for her hard work and dedication to trying to address Avon Park’s issues.
“I again commend Nicole Kelly for the effort she has expended trying to help cure her neighborhood’s drainage issues. I think the plan that the Sussex Conservation District has come up with is a good solution for their individual backyard problems,” he said.
“In Ms. Kelly’s communications to the Town, she has pointed out that a prior Avon Park drainage project was completed and paid for by the Town, and she is correct,” Curran acknowledged. “However, that work should not have been paid for by the Town.”
Curran said he did not support the Town paying money for those eight parcels, as he believed it to be “unethical … to pay for individual homeowner problems with Town tax money.”
“Whatever mistakes were made in the past serve as a lesson learned but should not be repeated… I recommend that the homeowners of Avon Park take advantage of the offer by the Sussex Conservation District and get the work done… From my position as mayor … I say we should not participate financially. It is not what the Town is supposed to do.”
Curran said Town Manager Dianne Vogel had researched the matter and found documents from when Avon Park and Wedgefield were annexed into the Town in 2002, stating that the Town would not be responsible for drainage issues.
“Quite frankly, the Town should not have spent the $45,000 back then,” said Curran.
Councilman Tom Maly said he, too, is opposed to having the Town financially contribute to the project, noting that he represents a number of communities who spend their own money to manage their stormwater.
“Speaking for my community, we spend $13,000 per year to manage our stormwater management system. It’s hard for me to go back to my community and other communities like Bear Trap and Savannah’s Landing who spend considerable amounts of money to manager their stormwater, to have them use their tax dollars to manage somebody else’s.”
Councilman Berton Reynolds disagreed with other members of council, noting that the Town has drainage issues in both Avon Park and Wedgefield slated to be addressed in 2020, and saying that the contribution could help save the Town money.
Burton was the only council member in favor of financially supporting the project.
Kelly voiced her disappointment with the council’s decision, suggesting there was favoritism when the 2015 project occurred.
“I’ve had had two other people come up to me and have that same allegation,” said Curran. “There was no favoritism. What there was was a decision based on information given to us that we relied on. Now we find out we never should have relied on it… That’s not fixing things retroactively — that’s learning from mistakes. We’re fixing things going forward.”
During Citizens’ Privilege, Woodland Park resident Bill Goodwin requested an update on the Town acquiring easements for the Woodland Park/Woodland Avenue drainage project.
“Recently, we had a gentleman pull out his wet-dry vac, stood out in his driveway and sucked the water out of his swale,” said Goodwin, illustrating the need for action.
Curran said Woodland Park is “leading the parade” on Town drainage projects.
The Town will hold an informational meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 6 p.m. for Woodland Park residents to learn about the drainage project.
“It is our hope that a full explanation, with photos, will clarify any misunderstanding anyone may have about why we need easements to perform the work.”
Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader had said in April that the Town needed to acquire 13 easements in order to begin work. Having obtained three since then, Schrader said there is another property owner he expects to sign off on the easement soon.
“It’s complicated… We have two people we can’t find,” he added. “We have that problem to deal with. We have a couple that are just adamant that they aren’t going to cooperate… Ultimately, I’m going to begin filing condemnation actions against the people who have failed to cooperate.”
Curran said that, aside from the Woodland project, all other proposed drainage projects within the town are being discussed and analyzed, to be prioritized “within a few months.”
“After priorities are set, everything else being equal, whichever neighborhood cooperates best and gets easements signed the quickest, with the least amount of legal hassle, will go to the top of the list.”
Phil Sommer, who has owned his home in Woodland Park since 2013, noted that there is a home within the community where the owner built a boardwalk to get out to their mailbox.
Kate Hungerford of Woodland Park said she had called Vogel prior to June 11, asking when Woodland Park’s project would begin.
“She told me there were no plans whatsoever for the drainage problem in Woodland Park, and now you’re saying there are plans. I had been lied to so many times and been given different excuses that I don’t believe what’s being said. My question is this: What is your estimated date of when this project will begin?”
Curran said that, once the easements were acquired, the Town would still need to advertise the project, seek bids and sign contracts. He estimated that it could begin in October.
Taxes also a point of contention
In a statement, Curran said taxes go hand-in-hand with drainage projects, as the council voted to raise taxes for that specific purpose.
“As we progress in our review of the outstanding list of drainage projects, the first thing we have to determine is ‘Who is responsible?’ There were decisions made in the past that were wrong. A number of the projects on the current drainage project list are questionable. This is extremely disturbing, because I and the remainder of this town council made a decision to raise taxes significantly based on the estimated costs of these projects. We all relied on the information provided to us.”
Curran said that, at the time of the tax increase, he had said it would get the Town through two years, but depending on the remaining drainage projects, another increase in taxes could be necessary before then.
“I am now convinced that we will not be facing additional tax increases in two years — at least not to pay for drainage projects,” he said.
Curran added a few points, which he said he hoped residents would take away with them:
• Delaware is flat, and when there is a great deal of rain, “There will be temporary flooding”;
• Individual homeowner lots in subdivisions that were incorporated into the town that have grading issues are a homeowner issue, not a Town issue;
• The Town does not need an easement to perform work in its own right-of-way;
• Homeowners who place plantings, ornaments, etc., in the Town’s right-of-way are trespassing and are responsible for replacing or repairing anything damaged or destroyed by those items;
• When the Town has an easement on a property, it will repair or replace anything damaged by the work being done; and
• The fact that the Town has an easement to perform work does not mandate that the Town has to perform the work.
Wedgefield resident Ruth Diggs said her family owns a vacation home in Ocean View and hope to one day live in town full-time. She questioned the recent switch to Sussex County tax assessments.
Curran said the switch to county assessments was to save the Town approximately $250,000, and blamed himself for not doing his due diligence on the resulting impacts on individual tax bills.
“From my perspective, that was a mistake for us to switch. It was an absolute mistake,” he said. “While we defended the 50 percent tax increase ... not only did people get hit with more than the 50 percent, some people got a reduction… We will find a cure for it.”
“Are you going to pay me back when we fix it?” asked Diggs.
“I’m not going to say yes or no, because I want to get all the facts in front of us before any decision is made to go in any direction.”
Schrader said that one thing that gets overlooked is that the assessments the Town is using have been used by Sussex County since the 1970s.
“Just keep in the back of your mind — everything you say about us is equally true about your County taxes,” he said. “You’ve been living with those same assessments… Even though we may work on fixing our tax assessments, it does not cure the County’s.”
Resident Jim Carr said he has trouble believing his Town taxes are within $200 of what he pays in taxes to the State of Delaware.
“A bunch of people are being overcharged in their taxes, and we need to do something about it immediately,” he said, asking when residents can expect a proposed solution to the problem.
Curran said he estimated having a solution to announce at the council’s next meeting, which will be in September.
In other Town news:
• Steve Strong asked the council to help him reduce the speed limit on Muddy Neck Road from 45 mph to 35 mph.
“Many in our local community are very much concerned about the dangerous conditions along this road,” he said. “It’s extremely dangerous. I regard it as an accident waiting to happen.”
Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin praised Strong, saying he saw a problem and is trying to solve it.
McLaughlin said he had spoken with new Ocean View Planning & Zoning Director Ken Cimino and Vogel about the issue, and the Town has reached out to the Delaware Department of Transportation regarding the concern.
“They’re going to give us some leeway in establishing speed limits on that section,” he said, noting that DelDOT still has to approve their findings.
DelDOT officials are scheduled to visit next week to lay down traffic counters to get a better sense of traffic on the road.
McLaughlin said his department would be doing extra work on the road in the meantime.
“I share the concerns,” he said, noting that an officer recently issued a ticket to a vehicle traveling 71 mph in the marked 45 mph zone. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”
• The Town received two letters — one from an individual looking to develop property and another actively developing another property — requesting zoning allowances be granted to them for properties whose zoning does not coincide with their request.
Schrader noted that what both parties were seeking is a change to the text of the Land Use & Development Code, which would require public hearings and meetings.
“It is not something we can change by simply putting it on the agenda,” he said, noting that the parties would have to contact the Planning & Zoning Department to follow the proper procedures.
• Vogel formally introduced Cimino, who had just completed his second week of work for the Town.
• The council voted 5-0 to establish an account for funds to be used for recreation and open space development, and to open a Raymond James investment account for investment of trust funds.
• The Ocean View Town Council will not meet in the month of August. The next monthly meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m.
Motorists traveling south on Route 113 next spring may get the, let’s say, opportunity to take a scenic tour of parts of Millsboro.
The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) sent representatives to the July 2 regular meeting of the Millsboro Town Council to discuss plans to fix a series of concrete-encased steel beams on concrete abutments attached to a bridge over Iron Branch, in close proximity to the Hardee’s on the highway.
DelDOT has looked at two plans to do the repairs: The first would involve lane closures and would take approximately eight months to finish. The second, which DelDOT and town officials have said they prefer, would involve closing down part of southbound Route 113, detouring motorists along Radish Road to Hickory Hill Road, then to Handy Road and back to Route 113. That second plan would take about two weeks to complete.
“It will be a lot of pain,” explained Jason Hastings, state bridge engineer for DelDOT. “But it’s for a short time.”
How we got here
The core of the bridge was originally constructed in 1916, to carry the then-new T. Coleman du Pont Highway over Iron Branch in Millsboro, according to DelDOT. That bridge was later modified two more times, to accommodate wider shoulders and to dualize the highway.
According to Hastings, each bridge in Delaware is inspected every two years, and it was discovered that the steel beams on this bridge “have significant corrosion and loss of section,” according to DelDOT’s website.
“The concrete frame and concrete abutments have some delamination [a mode of failure for composite materials and steel] and spalls [splinters]. The existing structure is structurally deficient and was selected by the Pontis Bridge Management System for work.”
“Each year, we create a prioritization list that is ranked based on a deficiency formula that accounts for bridge condition and roadway functionality,” explained Hastings. “We program the top 125-150 bridges for work, whether capital contracts (such as this project) or maintenance activities.”
The existing bridge is ranked 72nd on the 2018 DelDOT Bridge Deficiency List, according to the department’s website.
DelDOT will host public workshops on the proposed rehabilitation project, to both present details of the project and solicit feedback from the public, according to DelDOT. A live workshop will be held at Millsboro Town Hall & Civic Center on Thursday, July 26, from 4 to 7 p.m. A virtual workshop will be available online.
The full notice for the hearing is online at https://deldot.gov/About/publicevents/workshops/index.shtml?dc=workshop&....
Interested persons are invited to express their views either online or in writing, according to DelDOT. Comments will be received during the workshop, or can be mailed to DelDOT Community Relations, P.O. Box 778, Dover, DE 19903, or can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hastings said he believes the public will agree that the two-week plan, though more dramatic and inconvenient than the eight-month plan involving lane closures, is more efficient and advantageous.
“If there is significant backlash at the public workshop, we would re-evaluate,” said Hastings, “but I don’t anticipate that happening.”
Hastings said the estimated total cost of the project — including construction, contingency and construction inspection — is $1.5 million. Hastings also said that all businesses and homeowners beyond the closure will have access maintained throughout the duration of the project.
“In fact, the detour we chose allows U.S. 113 traffic to stay on 113 as long as possible, keeping easy access to the businesses.”
If the project gets the final thumbs-up and moves forward, DelDOT expects the design work to be completed by the end of this summer, and the construction has to be finished no later than the spring of 2019.
The actual construction phase of the project would involve the continued use of steel beams, but they would no longer be encased in concrete, according to Hastings.
“The widened portion of the structure [under the median and northbound side] is a three-sided concrete frame, which is an economic and durable structure for this structure size,” said Hastings. “The replacement portion of the structure on the southbound side will be a three-sided concrete frame to match the remaining structure.”
More than a decade after being mothballed due to adverse economic conditions, the Dove Landing community received final site plan approval from the Millville Town Council on Tuesday, July 10.
The final plans call for 316 homes. That is the same number of homes given preliminary approval in December 2017, but the breakdown of housing types has changed.
The plan finalized this week calls for 127 single-family homes, 66 townhomes with a height of 40 feet, and 123 townhomes that are 28 feet in height. The 95-acre Dove Landing site is located off Burbage Road and Route 17.
Originally, plans called for 140 single-family homes, 142 townhomes and 120 condominiums. The condo units were dropped last year; the taller townhome units were added to the plan presented July 11. Single-family homes were increased to 171 last December before being decreased to 128 for the final site plan.
The Millville Planning & Zoning Commission recommended approval of the changes in the site plan on March 9 and the changes in amenities on July 2.
The town council approved the plans 3-0 this week, with Council Members Pete Michel and Ron Belinko recusing themselves because they live in Bishop’s Landing, which was also built by Beazer Homes and is adjacent to the Dove Landing tract.
Steve Marsh of project engineer George, Miles & Buhr gave a presentation for Dove Landing at a public hearing before the council voted.
Marsh told the council there are no changes from the previously approved plan in the plans for the development’s road network, sewer piping or stormwater drainage system.
Some amenities have been added; for example, the new plans call for two pickleball courts, but fishing piers will be removed from two of the small ponds in the development. A community garden has been replaced with shuffleboard courts, a bench and a pergola.
Marsh said the developer is looking into adding two more pickleball courts, for a total of four, and said if that is deemed appropriate, Beazer would come back to the Town to amend the plan.
The clubhouse and pool plans have not changed, Marsh said.
Marsh said the increased amenities will cost the developer more, but added that the hope is that the added items would speed up sales in the development.
Town Solicitor Seth Thompson noted that there is no change in density from the most recent plan, which was down nearly 100 units from the original plan.
Most of the approximately 35 residents present at the meeting appeared to be from the Bishop’s Landing development. Only a handful chose to speak or ask questions during the public hearing.
Among the concerns were “screening” of four commercial trash containers to be placed in the community for residents’ use, to help keep non-residents of Dove Landing from using them; increased traffic in the area, particularly on Burbage Road; and lighting and noise from some of the amenities, particularly the planned basketball court.
Marsh agreed to suggest the trash containers be placed in such a way that non-residents will not be able to see them from the road.
“I think that’s a great point,” he said.
He also agreed to address the concerns of Denton Manor resident Jacqueline Reed, whose property backs up to Dove Landing. Reed requested extra buffers between her property and the sewer pump station, which is to be placed behind her property, as well as behind the proposed Beach Villas townhomes.
Of the concerns expressed about traffic, Marsh suggested that “people bring their concerns to DelDOT,” because those are out of the purview of the Town and the developer.
In other business, the council heard an update on the town park from Council Member Steve Maneri.
“Building permits are in hand,” Maneri said.
George, Miles & Buhr is currently finalizing site plans for the project, and “the next step is going out to bid,” he said.
With the July 10 filing deadline now past, the list of candidates for county, state and federal office from Delaware for the 2018 election cycle is now set.
Locally, the District 4 Sussex County Council seat is being sought by Democrat Paulette Ann Rappa of Millsboro, and two Republican candidates who have filed for the seat and will first face each other in a primary: Douglas B. Hudson of Dagsboro and George S. Parish of Millsboro.
Longtime incumbent George Cole, also a Republican, did not file for re-election.
For the District 5 County Council seat, Ellen M. Magee of Selbyville is the lone Democrat on the November ballot. Republicans Kevin J Christophel of Laurel and John L. Rieley of Millsboro will meet in the Sept. 6 primary.
District 5 incumbent Robert B. Arlett of Selbyville, a Republican, had previously announced, and this week filed for, his candidacy for U.S. Senate.
In statewide offices, vying for the District 38 state representative seat will be Democrat Meghan M. Kelly of Dagsboro and Republican incumbent Ronald E. Gray of Selbyville.
In the 41st Representative District, incumbent Rich Collins, a Republican, will face Democrat Bradley S. Connor of Dagboro.
For national office, incumbent U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper Jr., a Democrat, has filed for re-election. He will face Kerri Evelyn Harris of Dover in a Sept. 6 primary. Republicans Arlett, Eugene J. Truono of Wilmington and Roque “Rocky” de la Fuente will face off in the September primary. (There is no address given for de la Fuente, as he continues his multi-state filing pattern, which he has said is meant to demonstrate the laxness of candidacy requirements.)
Also filing for the U.S. Senate seat are Demitri G. Theodoropolous of Newark from the Green Party and Nadine M. Frost of Wilmington for the Libertarian Party.
U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Wilmington, a Democrat and the incumbent, will face the winner of a primary race between Lee Murphy of Wilmington and Scott Walker of Milford, both Republicans, in the general election on Nov. 6.
For State Treasurer, Democrat Colleen C. Davis of Dagsboro will face incumbent Kenneth A. Simpler of Newark in November.
For complete a complete list of federal, state and county candidates, see the Delaware Department of Elections website for Sussex County, at https://electionssc.delaware.gov/.
The Ocean View Board of Adjustment is expected to vote next week on an application requesting a special-use exception that would allow for a wildlife-learning center in a General Business-1 parcel in town.
The board originally deferred its vote on the application at its regular monthly meeting in May.
Barn Hill Preserve currently offers educational programs throughout the states of Delaware, Louisiana and beyond. The group is hoping to open an education center at 23 Atlantic Ave.
Co-owner Josh Mueller, a Bethany Beach native, graduated from Louisiana State University, where he studied wildlife ecology.
“It wasn’t as exotic as what I deal with now,” he said. “We learned about trees, birds, reptiles, mammals… Anything that could possibly do with the Earth, we learned about.”
While in college, Mueller interned at Barn Hill’s first location, fell in love with the work and became a partner.
“The more I was there, I realized, growing up, I never got an opportunity like this,” he said. “We don’t really have anything like what Barn Hill Preserve offers or any animal place could offer.”
In a packet presented to the board, the types of animals proposed for the facility include a red kangaroo, common parakeet, tayra (weasel), Eurasian lynx, Asian small-clawed otters, sulcata tortoise, Patagonian cavies and the Linneaus’ two-toed sloth.
For safety and security, according to Barn Hill, each animal enclosure will have an airlock-style entry system (without literally locking out air) that consists of two doors, walls on all sides and a roof. There will also be an additional barrier fence 3 feet from all animal enclosures, and all enclosures will be secured with a lock with keys only accessible to the animal keepers.
There would also be a 6- to 8-foot fence surrounding the property.
In case of inclement weather, each enclosure would have a lockdown house, to provide shelter to the animals.
Some people in town are not convinced on the project, however.
“Everyone I am talking to is absolutely outraged,” said Connie Marshall owner of All About Birds, whose commercial parcel is adjacent to the applicant’s proposed location.
Marshall has gone so far to create a petition against the application (which is in various local businesses), and is handing out informational packets to anyone interested who walks into her store. She has even created “No zoo for Ocean View” signs.
When she first heard of the application, Marshall said she wasn’t opposed, as she thought it would be similar to the Bethan Beach Nature Center, where animals are brought to the site. However, when she saw the site plan she was “sick to her stomach”
“It’s a wide-open field. There’s no natural habitat for these animals,” she said. “As people are finding out, they are outraged.”
Mueller says that having one-on-one interaction with animals is key to education and preservation.
“You just get a strong connection to the animals that way,” he said. “We don’t consider ourselves a zoo. We don’t want that distance between humans and animals. Our goal is to encourage people to work with the animals and to help them. That’s where the conservation is really strong with us.”
Mueller said they call it a wildlife learning center because they plan to teach people about wildlife.
“Everything is going to be hands-on for the most part, guided by one of our trained professionals.”
The public record is now closed, meaning no one in favor or opposition may speak to the board regarding the application.
Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader noted the Board of Adjustment is a semi-judicial board, and follows strict guidelines related to the public record. While Marshall may provide the petition to the board for the application’s file, it will not be considered as the board votes.
The Ocean View Board of Adjustment will meet on Thursday, July 19, at 6 p.m. at town hall.
Ocean View police reported Monday that two men in their 20s had been found deceased in a home on Central Avenue in Ocean View on Thursday, July 12, shortly before noon. Police said the apparent cause of death for both men was a drug overdose.
The OVPD reported that coworkers of the men at a local restaurant had grown concerned when they didn’t arrive at work last week and had gone to the home in Ocean View to check on them. Upon arriving at the home, police said, their coworkers peered in a window and observed the two men lying on the floor, at which point they called police.
OVPD officers said the bodies of both men were turned over to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science for autopsy. They said the men’s names and official causes of death would be released after those autopsies are complete.
Officers from the Delaware State Police, and the South Bethany and Bethany Beach police departments assisted the OVPD in their investigation.
The OVPD further reported on Monday that officers had also responded to a report of a man passed out on a bench in the Millville Town Center in June 26.
Police said that, upon their arrival, the man was found to be unresponsive and turning blue, and a heroin overdose was suspected.
The OVPD officer then searched the man, police said, and discovered suspected heroin and suspected drug paraphernalia.
The officer administered two doses of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan, police reported, and an additional two doses were administered by a second Ocean View officer upon his arrival on the scene.
Police said the man subsequently resumed breathing on his own and regained consciousness, and was then transported by the Millville Volunteer Fire Company EMS to Beebe Healthcare for additional treatment.
More on these stories in our July 20 issue.
The Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs was recently recognized nationally by the National Garden Clubs — a not-for-profit educational organization comprising 50 state garden clubs and the National Capital Area, with 5,000-member garden clubs and 165,000 members.
“We’ve had several awards, which is so unusual for Delaware, because we’re little. We’re up against 49 states which are a lot bigger,” said Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs President Lisa Arni.
Arni’s President’s Project for the DFGC’s “TREE-mendous Delaware” tree planting at the Delaware Botanic Gardens was given the Award of Excellence by the National Garden Clubs.
As part of the project, for every $100 raised or donated, a native flowering tree will be planted in the woodlands of the Delaware Botanic Gardens. Those who donate $100 will be given a certificate from the DFGC in honor of, or in memory of, a loved one, family member or whomever they choose.
“The Delaware Botanic Gardens has no budget for where we’re planting the trees, so when they heard the proposal, they were thrilled,” said Arni. “The thing that made it work was the certificates, because they can be given out as a gift and also the donors are listed on our website with a link from the Delaware Botanic Gardens website.”
Arni said the project follows the national group’s theme.
“This president had the board approve ‘Plant America,’ which would be an eight-year project theme. They asked each state to come up with their own… We always felt trees were important. We had a project in Delaware not that long ago called ‘Dimes for Delaware,’ where each club collected money and we reforested Redden Forest. We ran out of trees to plant — in other words, they didn’t want any more trees.”
So far, the DFGC has given out more than 100 certificates through TREE-mendous Delaware.
“Which is tremendous!” said Arni. “The reason we won the award is that this project embraces all that National Garden Clubs is about, which is raising funds to plant trees that the public will view and will be pleasurable to them — not just for this generation but multi-generation. I don’t know why it caught on… I expected to have about 25 trees in the first year, and we have 100.
“It’s remarkable what has happened here; and it’s gone outside of Delaware, too. We’ve had people who just heard about it who sent us money for trees from other states, and non-garden-club members have sent us money to purchase trees. So, it’s gotten a little life of its own. We’re pretty excited about it! It just took off, and people embraced it and really liked that the garden clubs are raising money to do it.”
The DFGC also received a first-place award for its TREE-mendous Delaware Membership Growth.
“We still have until next April for this project. It’s really taken off. Plus, we’ve added two new clubs — one in the Ocean View area and one in Bridgeville, and they’ve been growing,” she said, noting that in the first nine months of the project, DFGC grew 4 percent, with an overall goal of a 10 percent increase.
“We’re still looking to increase membership and looking to start new clubs — especially at night. We’re finding we’re missing a whole group of people that can’t meet during the day, who work perhaps. We’ve started a couple of evening clubs, and they’ve really taken off.”
The national convention at which the awards were presented was held in Philadelphia, Pa., on May 23. The DFGC also received a first-place award in Small-State Social Media Website (run by webmaster Margaret Woda) and an award of merit for its membership brochure, and individual clubs also received awards as well. Along with the certificates, the DFGC also received an engraved medallion.
“We just took home so many awards,” said Arni. “I was never so shocked or proud of Delaware. Typically, being such a tiny state, we can’t even compete with those states that have tens of thousands of members versus our 749. It’s pretty spectacular.”
Not only did the DFGC sweep the national awards, but in April the organization celebrated its 60th-anniversary Diamond Jubilee.
“Everything was diamonds, from the jewelry to the decorations,” said Arni. “We put together a historical booklet going back all of the 60 years, highlighting each year. We went back 60 years for each club. We celebrated every 10 years, so we have the latest 10 years added to the booklet. The booklet keeps getting bigger and bigger with all the histories of all the garden clubs in Delaware.”
Arni said she’s excited to see what the club does in the next year and beyond, noting that she hopes more garden lovers consider joining an area club.
“Membership is key to keeping this organization going. If we don’t have new members, it doesn’t work.”
For more information about Delaware garden clubs, or to become a member, visit www.DelawareGardenClubs.org or call Alva, membership chairwoman, at (302) 841-3632.
The Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control’s Mosquito Control Section, in conjunction with Delaware’s Division of Public Health and Department of Agriculture, this week announced the first detection this year of West Nile virus (WNV) in wild birds, indicating the recurrence of the mosquito-borne disease in Delaware.
WNV was detected in the first wild bird collected and tested by Mosquito Control this year, a crow found June 29 in southwestern Sussex County, and reported as WNV-positive July 5 by the Public Health Laboratory. Another crow collected in Sussex County also was reported as WNV-positive four days later, officials said.
The peak time of year for transmission of WNV, along with Delaware’s other mosquito-borne disease of concern, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), is from about mid-August into mid-October, officials noted, and during most years, evidence of WNV is first found upstate later in the season.
“Heavy rainfall amounts three times above normal from mid-May to mid-June caused a serious irruption of adult mosquitoes statewide, with conditions worse downstate than upstate,” said Mosquito Control Section Administrator William Meredith with DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife. “But with extensive aerial spraying, we have now knocked back mosquito numbers in Delaware. We are hoping this early virus detection does not foreshadow abnormal mosquito-borne disease activity later in the year.”
The first finding of mosquito-transmitted virus in Delaware also serves, he said, as a good reminder for people to continue taking common-sense precautions against mosquito bites. That includes wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors in mosquito-prone areas, applying insect repellent containing 10 to 30 percent DEET in accordance with all label instructions, and avoiding mosquito-infested areas or times of peak mosquito activity around dusk, dawn or throughout the night.
The possibility of mosquito-borne disease transmissions will not subside until cooler autumn temperatures set in, usually in mid-October and sometimes later, officials noted.
To reduce mosquito-breeding habitat and chances of disease transmission, residents should drain or remove from outdoor areas all items that collect water, such as discarded buckets or containers, uncovered trashcans, stagnant birdbaths, unprotected rain barrels or cisterns, old tires, upright wheelbarrows, flowerpot liners, depressions in tarps covering boats, clogged rain gutters, corrugated downspout extenders and unused swimming pools.
In addition to wild bird testing, the Mosquito Control Section also operates 20 monitoring stations with caged chickens in the field statewide from early July into October. The sentinel chickens are humanely kept and tended, officials noted. Sentinel chickens bitten by mosquitoes carrying WNV or EEE — both of which can affect humans and horses, but cannot be transmitted between horses or from horses to people — develop antibodies that enable them to survive. Their blood is tested every two weeks for the antibodies, which indicate exposure to the mosquito-borne viruses.
Mosquito Control also conducts statewide monitoring to determine the types and population abundances of 19 mosquito species through a statewide network of 25 stationary adult light trap stations, and assesses larval mosquito populations by sampling aquatic habitats around the state.
No approved WNV or EEE vaccines are available for humans, according to Delaware’s Division of Public Health. The majority of people infected with WNV will not show any symptoms; 20 percent develop a mild illness, which may include fever, body and muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting and rash. A small number of people infected develop serious illness, with young children, pregnant women, senior citizens and individuals with immuno-compromised systems being particularly vulnerable. Neurological symptoms, including paralysis and possibly death, may occur.
Effective EEE and West Nile vaccines for horses are available through veterinarians, according to the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s State Veterinarian’s Office. Both WNV and EEE cause severe, and sometimes fatal, infections in horses.
Signs of infection in horses include fever (although not always with WNV), anorexia, head pressing, depression or personality change, wobbling or staggering, weakness, blindness, convulsions, muscle spasms in the head and neck, or hind-limb weakness. If owners notice any of those signs in their horses, they should contact their veterinarian immediately, officials said.
Horse owners can take several steps in the barn and around the farm to help protect horses from WNV and EEE. Horses should be kept inside during dawn and dusk, which are peak hours for mosquito activity. Topical insect repellents labeled for use on horses may be applied. The wind generated by fans installed in horse stalls can also help deter mosquitoes.
Old tires and containers should be disposed of and standing water eliminated. Water troughs or buckets should be emptied, cleaned, and refilled every two to three days, if possible, to remove any mosquito eggs or larvae.
Recent years have demonstrated that today’s generations have at least one love in common: “Star Wars.”
And now, for the first time ever, the Freeman Stage in West Fenwick will be hosting “Jedi Academy,” a solo comedy variety show designed to teach children, and adults, the ways of a Jedi.
On Aug. 1 at 7 p.m., David Engel will be teaching kids 4 or older — who can come dressed like their favorite “Star Wars” character — some of the Jedi secrets that they have always wanted to learn. It is an interactive show for kids to learn how to truly feel and act like some of their favorite “Star Wars” characters.
Engel has been a family entertainer for more than 25 years and has varied in topic, from Shakespeare to contemporary drama and spectacle theater.
Freeman Stage Communications & Public Relations Manager Alyson Cunningham explained, “He also has over 30 commercials, film and television credits, including ‘Law & Order,’ and ‘Gossip Girl.’”
For those hungry young Padawans about to work up an appetite, Cunningham said Freeman has two food trucks tentatively planned to be at the Jedi Academy performance: Grotto Pizza and Beach Ball Sno Balls.
Earlier in the day, Freeman Stage will also be hosting Pirate School at 10 a.m. Both events are free, open to the public and performed by David Engel. They are also “Bring your own chair,” so attendees can bring blankets or lawn chairs and take in some family entertainment twice in one day, if they wish.
Author and artist Dean Kuhta will be signing copies of his book “Silvarum” at Bethany Beach Books on July 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
“Silvarum is a fantasy world I have created and centers around five teenagers: Abigail, Penny, Roger, Mckenzie and Marie,” Kuhta said. “Using magic, technology and old-fashioned problem-solving skills, they must work together to prevent the destruction of their world by an ancient evil known as ‘the Nexxathians.’
“Eight runestones (Frost, Fire, Light, Shadow, Nature, Technology, Life and Death) are each guarded by a horrible Nexxathian monster... In order to succeed in their quest, the band of teenage friends must reclaim all eight runestones.”
The concept for “Silvarum” originated in 2006, when Kuhta designed an illustration series called “The Nine Stages.”
“It was essentially a cloaked figure wandering through a series of fantastic scenes full of creepy trees and forests, mushroom castles, cemeteries and lands filled with dinosaurs,” he explained.
His initial intent was for the illustrations to be a standalone project, but as his children were growing up, he imagined how they would act if they were placed in a fantasy world and possessed magical powers. Three years later, Kuhta finished writing Book I of “Silvarum.”
In addition to writing the series, Kuhta created every illustration, map, artifact and cover for “Silvarum.”
Prior to investing in his writing career about seven years ago, Kuhta was a professional artist. He has sold his artwork at galleries and shows for almost two decades.
“Because most of my illustrations take on a storybook life of their own, the process of converting them into short stories, and eventually novels, was not as difficult as I once imagined,” he said.
Kuhta collaborates with other writers on OutPost28 magazine, a compilation series of horror, fantasy and science-fiction short stories.
“It also features original illustrations from artists all over the world and interviews with musicians of all types,” Kuhta said. “I have always been fascinated with the fantasy/sci-fi pulp magazines from the ’60s and ’70s. Outpost 28 is my way of carrying on this tradition of collaborative writing and art.”
Issues of OutPost28 cost $9 and are available for purchase on his website at deankuhta.com.
“Silvarum” is Kuhta’s first solo writing project. “Book I: Frost,” the first of the eight-book series, was published in August 2017. The second part is expected this September.
The book is available for $15 at more than 20 bookstores nationwide, including independent bookstores such as Bethany Beach Books, and both “Silvarum” and Outpost 28 are also available (in print form only) on Amazon.com and at BarnesandNoble.com. For more information about the author event, contact the bookstore at (302) 539-2522.
The Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute Inc. (MERR) will be conducting its Annual Dolphin Count on Saturday, July 21, from 9 to 11 a.m.
The count helps determine the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin population in the region, in addition to informing the public of the presence of the marine mammals in this area, said MERR Executive Director Suzanne. Usually, 300 to 400 dolphins are counted during the two-hour period, she added.
“We now have over 18 years of data, and the objective of the count is to help alert us to any changes in population numbers,” said Thurman. “If we were to notice a significant decline, for example, we would initiate plans for a more in-depth aerial survey.”
According to MERR, threats to Atlantic bottlenose dolphins include entrapment in fishing nets, hunting, whaling, habitation destruction, pollution and human disturbance.
MERR is requesting volunteers for the general census. Volunteers will be stationed at 37 observation points between Fenwick Island and Woodland Beach to collect data on the local dolphin population. Participants can work in half-hour shifts or for the entire two-hour period. In past years, the count has attracted more than 100 volunteers.
For more information or to volunteer, contact the MERR Institute at (302) 228-5029 or email email@example.com.
After spending the last 15 summers vacationing in Bethany Beach with their four kids, Rosanne and John Strittmatter of Potomac, Md., decided it was time to set down roots. They located an older mid-century cottage on a double lot within walking distance of the beach and, although it needed a major redo, they could see that it had great potential. They loved the ground-floor rambler style with guest rooms upstairs, plus the added bonus of a backyard pool.
Having already renovated four homes previously, Rosanne set to work, gutting the first floor to create an open central living area flanked by the master suite on one side and the kids’ bedrooms on the other. The back of the home offers easy access to the spacious rear patio and pool, now the central focus of all family gatherings.
The decor is relaxed and beach-y, using soft tropical colors and fun accessories. The result is a welcoming family retreat that captures the character and charm of an older cottage, reflects the artistry of the homeowner and serves as the anchor for the Strittmatters where they can all reconnect and relax. Thus the inscription upon entering the living room: “Beach Matters.”
When Julia Ashworth’s grandfather bought a $900 lot in South Bethany some 50 years ago, he established a family vacation tradition that has continued ever since. Julia grew up coming to the home he built there, and her love for South Bethany was cemented when Travis proposed to her on the beach in 1997.
They went on to purchase a small South Bethany rancher in 2010, spending many happy summers there with their three young daughters. As the children grew, they realized they needed something larger and so, in 2016, they purchased a canalfront lot and began construction on their custom dream home, completed last year and dubbed “Instead of 3 Weddings.”
The new 3,000-square-foot home utilizes an inverted floor plan, providing the family space to spread out and also to come together. The second floor was designed for the girls, with three bedrooms, two baths, a kids’ TV lounge and a waterfront deck equipped with three Adirondack chairs. Upstairs, the main living area is topped by a vaulted ceiling and opens out to a screened porch, sundeck and beautiful views of the canal. The master suite and an adjoining office complete the upper level.
The transitional interior design balances the modern sophisticated feel of large graphic art with the warmth and character of reclaimed wood found in the custom dining table, coffee table and ceiling beams. Multiple entertaining areas, both inside and out, comfortably accommodate large groups. The dockside patio, equipped with an outdoor TV and all-weather sectional sofa, is the perfect spot to relax while awaiting a ride on the family pontoon boat or a turn in one of the two outdoor showers. With a focus on fun and function, this family has created a vacation home that will welcome generations for years to come.
It’s hard to believe that this spacious four-bedroom, four-bath canal-front home was originally a small three-bedroom, one-bath 1970s-era rancher of less than 900 square feet. Susan and John O’Brien purchased their South Bethany beach house in 1997, when their sons were just 6, 8 and 9.
Despite its small size, it became the focus of every summer from that moment, on with Susan and the kids spending all of their summers there from the last day of school in June until the early morning of the first day back in September.
Eventually, they began to outgrow the original house. Rather than move to a bigger place, they chose to renovate because they loved their quiet location on the water, just a short walk to the beach. They began by adding a second floor in 2001, remodeling the kitchen in 2008 and just recently completed a final renovation in 2016, bringing the square footage up to 2,700 square feet.
Susan describes her style of decorating as simple beach elegance, choosing a minimum of soft textural beach accessories to complement the pale monochromatic background colors. In deference to her husband’s visual impairment, she has tried to keep everything as clutter-free and light as possible to ease his navigation around the open floor plan.
Having spent so many years in the original tiny downstairs master bedroom, one of Susan’s priorities was to create a spacious master suite with plenty of well-ordered storage. This final renovation was done to insure that there would be enough room for their adult sons and their future families to experience the same carefree endless summers that they enjoyed growing up, carrying on the family tradition started more than 20 years ago.
After searching for several years for their dream vacation home in Bethany Beach, Toni Ianniello and George Chuzi finally found what they’d been looking for in 2016, tucked away on a quiet street near the canal and wetlands, yet within walking distance of town. Although 10 years old, the three-story shingled home looked like new and offered quality custom finishes and architectural details that enhanced its appeal.
The home was already beautifully furnished, so it only remained for them to personalize the décor with accessories and art. Toni selected works from more than 10 local artists, most found at nearby Gallery One. Reclaimed antique pine flooring, custom millwork and built-in cherry cabinetry all add warmth and richness, while art-glass sconces add a touch of elegance.
A stone-faced fireplace with antique metal insert is flanked by custom built-ins and cozy seating in the open light-dappled main living area, while a spacious gourmet kitchen is an added bonus for George’s culinary creations. The master bedroom on the main floor is topped by three additional bedrooms and an adjacent lounge on the third floor, allowing a measure of space and privacy for them and their adult children as they all seek refuge in their quiet vacation retreat.
Having both grown up vacationing in Bethany Beach, Carter and Matt Kirks vowed when they married that they would someday build a home there. The opportunity presented itself in 2014, with the purchase of a canalside lot in Tingles Addition that offered the chance to create a home large enough to accommodate their growing extended family.
Great attention has been paid to the details of comfortable multigenerational living in this 3,600-square-foot home completed just a year ago. The main living area is an open kitchen-based floor plan, surrounded by a wrap-around all-season sunroom designed to give both children and adults plenty of room to spread out.
With an eye to the future, the first-floor master suite, with an adjacent office and master laundry, is equipped with doorways and bathrooms wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, if necessary. The entire second floor was created as a dual-generation guest suite, with a pair of double bunk bedrooms to accommodate the Kirks’ seven grandkids and a two-bedroom guest suite to serve their parents. A shared lounge and large laundry room nestle in between the bedrooms.
The home is filled with plenty of well-designed practical features, such as bedside USB ports and efficient task-oriented built-in storage in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundries.
The colorful décor is family-friendly, filled with fun whimsical features that include a tree-house-style loft connector between the grandkids’ bunk rooms, an entire lounge of jump-worthy beanbag furniture, a vintage mail slot for post-office play, a hand-built dollhouse and a double-sized Jacuzzi bathtub with a built-in light show. Carter’s eclectic yard-sale treasures and Matt’s vintage collections bring added character and showcase the couple’s creativity.
Outdoor activities abound on this canalside lot stocked with bikes, boats, bodyboards and kayaks, all stashed under the home in clever storage bins designed by the owner so that they’re readily accessible for their active and ever-growing family.
Together, JoAnn McInnis and Eric Seleznow were yearning for a beachside vacation home they could renovate in a style completely different from their 120-year-old home on Capitol Hill. Although the Lake Bethany property they settled on had been neglected for many years prior to their purchase in 2014, it was situated in a pine grove with views of marshland and easy access to the water for kayaking. It was just what they wanted.
The interior of the 1,800-square-foot mid-’80s home solidly reflected that era, with wood paneling, Pergo floors, blond wood kitchen cabinets and outdated bathrooms — one of them bright red. As part of a total renovation, they updated the entire house, both inside and out, to create an “organic modern” home that comfortably blended into the sylvan setting.
JoAnn did all of the design, sourcing of material and construction oversight for the entire renovation. Small original windows and doors were replaced with large double sliders to open the house to natural light and create the sense of indoor/outdoor living they were seeking. Drywall replaced the dated paneling, lighting was updated, and engineered hardwood floors were added. In the open kitchen, quartz island countertops replaced dark granite. The original cabinets were reconfigured, painted and varnished to further brighten the space. Collar-ties were crafted from local barn beams to add architectural detail to the vaulted ceiling.
A selection of custom-crafted wood furnishings, antiques and artful accessories mingle with contemporary pieces to warm the cool palette of neutrals. White linen drapes throughout the house keep things simple and bathe the home in soft natural light filtered through the surrounding trees. An owner-designed hanging bed on the small porch adjacent to the master bedroom adds a final touch of serenity to this tranquil woodland escape.
As a native Delawarean, Kathy Jankowski spent her youth visiting relatives in Rehoboth Beach, and it was then that her dream of living at the beach was born. Working three jobs while a student at the University of Delaware, she saved enough to purchase waterfront property in South Bethany where she eventually built a three-story vacation home.
After enjoying the home with her family and friends for 33 years, however, concerns for easier senior living led to a recent decision to downsize to a one-level home. The Reserves in Ocean View offered the quality construction she and Rob Youngs were looking for in a community close to Bethany Beach amenities. Their three-bedroom, two-bath home boasts a spacious open floor plan with plenty of room for the frequent entertaining they both enjoy.
Her goal with this house was to create a more traditional décor with understated subtle references to the beach, primarily through well-chosen art and accessories. A soft neutral palette is paired with nubby upholstery, patterned rugs and drapes, and is grounded by elegant wingback chairs, an assortment of antiques and a treasured baby grand piano.
Arched portals add charm to the transition from the entry into the main living area and the bedrooms. A two-way fireplace provides ambiance and warmth year-round, both inside and out on the enclosed porch overlooking the pond. With a slightly modified water view, this new version of beach living continues to fulfill Kathy’s original childhood dream.
After visiting the Seabreak community in North Bethany for many years, Kim and Paul Fischer purchased there in 2016 and began planning a home that would comfortably serve multiple generations of their family, completing it just in time for this year’s tour.
The 4,500-square-foot house incorporates a modern mix of industrial, coastal and organic elements to create a transitional twist on the traditional gabled beach cottage. A dramatic floating oak staircase ascends from the entry to reveal a towering bank of windows designed to flood the home with natural light from the southern exposure.
The upper level is designed to maximize ocean views and cross ventilation, with a 16-foot-wide bank of folding doors that open the main living area to a spacious screened porch and adjacent deck. A soaring vaulted ceiling with exposed ductwork and wooden rafters tops the great room, adding to the bright and airy open floor plan. Reclaimed woods and woven textures in the furnishing soften the industrial elements.
A master suite with a walk-through closet of custom cabinetry sits at the back of this level, capped by an ocean-view balcony. The entire middle level is dedicated to houseguests, with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a study, laundry and a communal sitting room anchored by a custom wood-slat wall.
Soon after moving the aging rancher from their Sea Del lot in 2005, Sharon and Paul Dillon of Bethesda, Md., began work on a beach home that would comfortably accommodate their family and a host of regular visitors. Completed in 2008, the home is divided into three separate living areas encompassing six bedrooms, five bathrooms and more than 5,000 square feet.
The home may look familiar to regular tour-goers who saw it in 2010, although it’s been tweaked and polished since then. The lower level, referred to as “the Olympic Village,” features a dorm room designed to house the Dillons’ adult children and a large group of their friends who convene annually for the Dewey Beach Sprint Triathlon, sometimes numbering as many as 55 for dinner and 25 overnight. A separate ground-floor entrance allows them easy access, and two outside showers alleviate lines for the inside facilities.
The middle floor, reserved for the couple’s friends and family, includes four en suite bedrooms that surround a common sitting area, with microwave, refrigerator, TV and direct access to the deck and hot tub. The light-filled third level boasts soaring vaulted ceilings that define the kitchen, dining and living areas, as well as a sunny ocean-view tower. A spacious master suite with private entry is tucked away at the rear, offering a quiet escape when needed.
The soothing décor is based on Sharon’s longtime love of the color aqua, seen in myriad shades throughout the home and inspired by a beloved photo of her mother in an aqua bridesmaid dress, now displayed in the master bedroom. The Caribbean influence permeates the home, with a palette of watery blues, each room sporting a different tropical hue and grounded by sandy colored natural maple floors.
The artwork continues the theme, with prints chosen from favorite island vacations, all of them pinpointed on a family travel map in an upper hallway. Seagull images complete the coastal theme, appearing on the cast metal sculpture at the entry, on the midlevel den mural, the glass wall hanging on the upper stairwell and mounted on the east exterior wall of the home.
With a demanding family business in Baltimore, Bird and J.P. Bishop were seeking the solace and comfort of living by the water. While casually looking at oceanfront property for a possible future purchase, they came upon a 1992 home with “great bones” at a great price. They snapped it up and began the facelift that it desperately needed, gutting it down to the framing for a fresh start.
First replacing lighting, plumbing, windows, decking and exterior railings, they then added metal accent roofs, pocket bathroom doors and multiple built-in features for extra interest. The white oak open staircase was designed by architect Scott Edmonston to become a dramatic highlight of the first-floor entry into the wide ocean vistas that span the width of the 5,000-square-foot house and serve as the primary focal point for the home.
Bird has selected a soft watery palette that complements the expansive ocean views, and her clutter-free décor deepens the sense of calm.
The first-floor oceanfront master bedroom with private screened porch is reserved for her 86-year-old mother. The bathroom includes floor-to-ceiling floral tile in the spacious zero-clearance shower, for a subtle touch of elegance. The five remaining en suite bedrooms are nearly identical, all sporting low-maintenance white linens and towels, distinguished only by differing accent pillows.
Second-floor bedrooms surround a sunny open lounge that is anchored by a built-in daybed nestled beneath a perfect ocean view. The end result is a home that exudes peace and serenity and “Quietude,” the well-chosen paint color that dominates this newly rebuilt home.
The Friends of the South Coastal Library’s major annual fundraiser is the Beach & Bay Cottage Tour. The 27th Annual Tour directly benefits the South Coastal Library in Bethany Beach and is almost here. The tour will take place Wednesday, July 25, and Thursday, July 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The 2018 tour offers homes in a variety of styles and personalities; they are located along the canals in South Bethany, the beach in North Bethany, and inland, including wetlands views, in Bethany Beach and Ocean View. Tour attendees have the option of visiting all 10 homes in one or two days, but each home may only be visited once.
Tickets for the tour cost $30, and each attendee will receive a reusable tote bag with the tour booklet (which serves as the ticket) and a pair of booties (donated by Beebe Medical Center) to be worn in all the homes.
Tote sponsors for 2018 are the Anne Powell Group, the Cottage Café and Bethany Boathouse, G&E/Hocker’s, PNC Bank, Sea Colony Recreational Association and the Town of Bethany Beach. FOSCL offered special thanks go to Shirley Price LLC for supplying hand fans for the tour, and the Pohanka Automotive Group for furnishing the auto hangtags. Leslie Kopp of the Leslie Kopp Group is serving as the chief underwriter of the annual cocktail reception honoring the homeowners of this year’s tour homes.
Tickets are no longer available online. Tourgoers will be able to pick up previously reserved tickets, as well as purchase tickets, at the library meeting room starting July 19 at 10 a.m. and at varying times throughout the week, until July 26. Times will be posted on the meeting room door at the library and online.
A limited number of tickets will also be available July 17-26 at Bethany Beach Books in Bethany Beach; at Carolina Street and the Rooster’s Nest in West Fenwick; at McCabe’s Gourmet in South Bethany; and at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach.
Babies and children younger than 12 are not permitted in the homes; and no photography is allowed in the homes. Tour homes are private homes and are not handicapped-accessible.
The Cottage Tour is also known for its raffles. The winners of the Dinner for Two raffle will dine at Good Earth Market, Mancini’s, Off the Hook, The Parkway, Sedona, SoDel Concepts or Touch of Italy. The Art Raffle offers framed artwork from Aubré Duncan, Tara Funk Grim, Laura Hickman, Jeanne Mueller, Amanda Sokolski and Cheryl Wisbrock.
Raffle tickets for both raffles cost $1 each or $5 for six and are available at the library and at selected homes on the days of the tour. The drawings will be held at the library at 5 p.m. on July 26; winners need not be present.
With the Adopt a House program for hostesses, many organizations will be involved in the 2018 tour. Participants this year are Alpha Alpha Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, Bay Forest Ladies, the Bishop’s Landing Ladies’ Luncheon Group, Friends of Kathy Jankowski, Friends of Dolores Pack, Friends of Eileen Giaquinto, Friends of Joan Corrao, Friends of Laura Martin, Friends of Sandy Powell, Friends of Sue DiTommaso, Gardeners by the Sea, the Ladies and Friends of Waters Run, Lake Bethany Babes, Lord Baltimore Women’s Club, Salt Pond Women’s Club, Southampton Homeowners, the Village of Bear Trap Dunes, Tower Road Beach Family, Windhurst Manor Homeowners, the Women’s Civic Club of Bethany Beach and the Women’s Council of Realtors.
To donate or for updated information, go to www.beachandbaycottagetour.com, stop at the library or leave a message with the Friends at (302) 537-5828.
New York native Frank Conlon joined the Marine Corps in 1952. He served eight years in the Corps, as an air-traffic controller in the Air Wing.
“Like all young guys, you see something in your younger days and say that’s what you want to be,” recalled Conlon, noting that he had friends and family members who were in the Corps. “I thought they were the best, and I wanted to be a part of the best.”
Conlon said he’s proud to have served as a Marine and enjoyed his time in the service.
“Not necessarily in this order, but my job for sure — the comradery with fellow Marines, being part of what I consider the best. When you like your job and the company, it means a lot. Even after being in the Marine Corps, when you travel around and people ask you if you were ever in the service, ‘Yes.’ ‘What branch?’ And you say, ‘The Marine Corps,’ “Wow!’ … That’s a nice feeling. That we have the respect of people
“Even now, when we do things like Toys for Tots, people are very proud that we Marines would do this. When you look at the other branches of the service — there are so many people in the Army, so many people in the Navy, in the Air Force. We Marines truly are a band of brothers.”
Conlon was recently named Delaware Marine of the Year, after being nominated by fellow First State Detachment Marine Corps League Marine David Kline Sr., judge advocate.
“Frank has always presented himself as a true dedicated Marine and outstanding member and an asset to our First State MLC Detachment,” wrote Kline in his nomination letter.
Kline explained that each detachment may submit two people they believe possess qualities to be named Marine of the Year.
“The protocol is, if someone in the detachment feels that one of their members is worthy of the award, he has to submit a letter to the commandant. Then they have a vote of membership to make sure everyone is onboard,” said Kline.
“We have five detachments in the State and Frank was overall selected by the committee. It was well-deserved,” he said, noting that during the award presentation the Marine commandant told Conlon, “You’re one hell of a marine.”
Kline noted that Conlon goes above and beyond in the detachment, not only collecting for Toys for Tots, but heading the organization’s yearly fundraising journal, organizing a fundraising golf tournament, and placing flags in the Millsboro Veterans Cemetery at Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day.
“It’s not my unique idea. The detachment I belonged to up in New York in Calverton… Every year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, we — along with other groups — would place the flags on the markers for the veterans’ part of the cemetery,” explained Conlon. “When I got down here, the only national veteran cemetery in Delaware is up north.”
He would later discover the Millsboro veterans cemetery and approached the staff about having the detachment place flags on the markers, as opposed to having staff do it.
“That’s how it started,” he said. “Once we had a couple years under our belt, the detachment over in Seaford asked us if they could join us, and now we have wives coming with us and even neighbors. If you look at all those gravesites prior to those flags going up and then look at them an hour later after all those flags go up… It’s quite a sight.”
Kline also called attention to Conlon’s efforts with the detachment’s youth physical-fitness program, volunteered to walk in the Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade, and is a member of the detachment’s funeral detain.
“He was awarded the Detachment Marine of the Year medal in 2004,” wrote Kline in his nomination letter. “Frank’s MCL ribbons include Detachment Marine of the Year, Distinguished Service Bronze, Detachment Staff Elected Silver, Detachment Staff Appointed Bronze, Individual Meritorious Commendation and Marine Corps League Membership.”
Conlon was recently honored at the statewide meeting held at Heritage Shores.
“Of course, I was very honored. My granddaughters, I told them I was nominated… The youngest, she just turned 19… She said, ‘Grandpop, you will always be my Marine of the Year,’” he said, noting that she put listed him in her phone as “MOTY.” “They got a kick out of it. That’s the nice part about it for me.”
Being a part of the Marine Corps League is something Conlon has done for years, having been a member when he was living in Long Island. When he and his wife moved to the area in 2001, he immediately found the First State Detachment.
“I went into the post office one day, and there was a poster on the bulletin board that said, ‘The Marine Corps League is looking for new members, and we want you,’” he recalled, noting the similarity to the Uncle Sam campaign of World War I.
“We perpetuate the image of the Marine Corps and its traditions and what have you. It’s just a matter of helping the community where it’s needed, meeting fellow marines… We have so much in common as Marines because it’s a small branch of the services. And as they say, ‘Once a Marine, always a Marine.’ You just like that feeling.”
First State Detachment Marine Corps League in the community
The primary purpose of the Marine Corps League is to preserve the tradition, promote the interest and perpetuate the history of the U.S. Marine Corps.
According to its website, the First State Detachment Marine Corps League is a “non-profit organization which uses money raised from events during the year to support our community service programs such as Semper Fi fund, Toys for Tots, Youth Physical Fitness Program and others community events, in southeastern Sussex County, Del., and northeastern Worcester County, Md.”
“We’re the only branch of the service that has an after-military organization,” said Kline.
A big part of what the Marine Corps League focuses on is Toys for Tots, which, according to its website is designed to “collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.”
According to the detachment’s yearly journal, in 2016, they were able to distribute 7,241 toys to 4,074 economically disadvantaged children in the area.
“We put some major hours in with just Toys for Tots — you would not believe the number of hours,” said Kline.
During the holiday season, the detachment has 30 donation boxes throughout the Bethany-Clarksville/Route 26 corridor alone. They also have boxes along the Route 54 corridor and in Ocean City, Md.
“The community has been so generous to us,” said Conlon.
The League also offers a physical fitness challenge to students of Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Berlin, Md.
“We would meet these kids in first grade and work with them all the way up… They looked forward to us coming. We ate lunch with them in the cafeteria. It was really a good thing for everyone — the kids, the school and the Marine Corps,” said Conlon, noting that the program was once available to Delaware students before the State stopped the program.
The Marine Corps League also does a lot of work with the Semper Fi Fund, which is a non-profit that “provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post-9/11 combat wounded, critically ill and catastrophically injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.”
“Semper Fi Fund looks at all branches of service, not just Marines,” said Conlon. “We want to have each other’s backs.”
The Semper Fi Fund was started in 2004, and since its inception, more than $160 million in grants has been distributed, with more than 20,000 soldiers and their families being helped.
“A couple of Marine wives out in California were coming across veterans who were coming back from Iraq and Iran and so on, and they really had problems. They got together and with some local professionals they knew and said, ‘We have to do something about this,’” said Conlon. “They got some major corporations involved, and this thing has snowballed. Their overhead is about 6 percent. The money that people give goes right to where it’s needed.”
Kline noted that, at a recent Operation SEAs the Day event, members of the First State Detachment met a wounded veteran who had a service dog.
“He came up and thanked us, because the Semper Fi Fund got him that dog,” said Kline.
The detachment also helps wherever they see a need in their community, and even in other communities.
“One of our members in Laurel, two years ago, had the water pump in his trailer shorted out and caught fire. Burned their trailer to the ground,” said Conlon. The detachment contributed $4,000 to the family, and other detachments sent money to help as well. “We all help each other in times of need.”
Currently, the detachment has approximately 100 members, though not all of them are active.
“We’re constantly trying to recruit new members, but it’s hard,” Kline said.
Kline joined the detachment 11 years ago, as a way to support his community.
“I’ve had a real, super-good life. A good job, a good family — this is my way of giving back.”
Kline served two years in the Corps, spending 13 months in Vietnam, and was exposed to Agent Orange.
“I joined,” he said. “I wanted to be a Marine. My uncle was a Marine. I went to his wedding, and he had his ‘Dress Blues’ on… When my school was called up, you had 30 days to join something or you’d be drafted, so I joined the Marines. I haven’t regretted a minute of it.”
Kline said that when he would travel to Florida yearly, he would stop at Parris Island (“where Marines are made”) and attend graduation.
“Everyone just treats you like you’re one of them,” he said. “I always take pride that I am a Marine. I would take pride if I were in the Navy.”
Kline said the Marine Corps League is always seeking new members to join their efforts. Those who are eligible to serve as full members, with the right to serve as an officer, appointed officer or vote on changes within the detachment, must be Marines who have served at least 90 days, Fleet Marine Force Corpsmen or Navy chaplains. Anyone in the community is welcome to serve as an associate member, though they cannot vote or hold office.
“We give back through all of our volunteer work. We need more to join to help us with our activities. If you served in the Marine Corps, we would love to have you in the Marine Corps League. It’s a great organization,” said Kline. “We need you to help us meet the needs of our community.”
Those interested in joining the First State Detachment Marine Corps League should contact Junior Vice Commandant of Detachment in Charge of Recruiting Rich Pounsberry at (302) 628-2624.
Vinnette Fowler’s family describes her as a social butterfly. She loves having company, and her South Bethany home has been her family’s go-to destination for decades.
This month, the 102-year-old enjoyed the best type of family visit: five generations of family, in fact, including meeting her newest great-great-granddaughter for the first time.
“It’s just so wonderful. She’s so beautiful,” Fowler marveled of the baby.
Alma Lantsman is the smiling 9-month-old who gnaws charmingly on a toy ball and tugs at her great-great-grandmother’s earring.
This was a special weekend for the five generations. Alma’s proud parents, Megan Hjelle-Lantsman and Lenny Lantsman, brought her to South Bethany from Alexandria, Va. Her grandparents Colleen FitzGerald-Hjelle and Robert “Bob” Hjelle flew in from in Los Angeles, Calif., delighted to meet their first grandchild (by one month). Great-grandmother Frances FitzGerald splits her time, living six months of the year locally.
“It’s been so special for me to have a great-grandma throughout my whole life. So, I think it’s going to be really special for her to have that connection and have this continuous line of generations of women before her,” Hjelle-Lantsman, who spent the weekend asking her kinswomen about the past. “I think it’s really cool to be able to ask them because they’re actually here!”
This was also the first experience with the Atlantic Ocean for the baby girl, who seems to have inherited her grandpa’s Norwegian eyes: rich brown, with a blue ring.
“This is one of her first road-trips,” said Hjelle-Lantsman.
As opposed to his wife’s extensive lineage, her husband, Lenny Lantsman, has a small family, so “every addition counts,” he quipped. He snapped photos of the visit, occasionally letting Alma test the equipment herself.
Vinnette was married to Burt Fowler for about 58 years before his passing. Their South Bethany vacation house was built in 1968, and they moved there fulltime in 1980.
Much of her family is spread across the East Coast, as well as in California. She had four children, 17 grandchildren, some 30 great-grandchildren and about 12 great-great-grandchildren, the oldest of whom is a teenager.
Fowler “has passed on a lot of her loving and caring about people … and her assertiveness. Sometimes we have to learn it, but she’s got it naturally,” FitzGerald said of her mother.
“And I feel like she leads a good example of how to enjoy herself,” Hjelle-Lantsman added.
“She lives life to the fullest,” FitzGerald agreed.
Fowler, Hjelle-Lantsman and baby Alma were all born in Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C.
When Alma entered the world, FitzGerald-Hjelle joked, there were three doctors in the room: the M.D. delivering the child, the J.D. in the bed and a Ph.D. about to become a father.
Motherhood has changed over the last century.
Now, Fowler sees young parents continuing their careers while raising children: “I think they’re very smart. … Look at the three of them. It’s perfectly wonderful how they’re raising this child in this day and age. … They know so much about what’s out there!
“None of my friends were working mothers. Everyone was a stay-at-home mom,” Fowler recalled, especially after World War II, when college was rare because of tough times. “After the war, money wasn’t there — you didn’t have a lot of food and everything. It had to be rationed, you know.”
Fowler estimated being about 45 “when I accidently came across somebody that needed me to work for them, which lasted about 20 years.
“Mostly when the children were young, you were at home,” FitzGerald-Hjelle told her mother. “I worked when [my child] was 2, Colleen worked part-time [after giving birth], Megan’s working from the beginning. So it’s progressed.”
“Things have changed … but it’s wonderful when you can see the young ones come up. They learn so much so soon, it’s wonderful,” Fowler said.
“Ahhhhh,” the baby happily interrupted.
“She wants you to know she’s still around!” Fowler said.
“She’s cheerful and smiley and loud,” Hjelle-Lantsman said.
Veterans discussed the issues and learned more about their benefits at Selbyville Town Hall on July 10.
The free veterans town hall-style meeting was hosted and moderated by outgoing Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett, who is running for U.S. Senate.
“We are the problem. The elected officials are the problem, and we need to listen more to you and not think we have all the answers,” Arlett said.
Roughly half the audience was veterans, by show of hands. They raised many concerns and complaints, as Arlett prompted them to further explain their experience with the system.
A former U.S. Naval Reservist, Arlett described his own brother’s tumultuous exit from the military to civilian life, as well as the next generation of his family members entering the military.
The panel included Shawn Greener, a Navy vet, former New Castle County police officer, consultant on counter-terrorism and personal protection, a pastor and talk-show host.
“You should know your elected officials,” Greener said, and should complain when something seems wrong, like the perceived underfunding of Delaware’s VA or related services.
Dean Levering, commander at VFW Post 7234 at Ocean View, also encouraged vets to stay active, politically and socially.
“Keep Washington on their toes; keep veterans a priority,” as funding has dropped over the years “It’s not just a bunch of old guys sitting around and drinking, although that happens, too,” he joked, then described the two dozen various charities and volunteer programs at Post 7234.
State legislators Sen. Gerald Hocker (R-20th), Rep. Ron Gray (R-38th) and Rep. Rich Collins (R-41st) were also present.
Hocker mentioned that two VA medical facilities in Millsboro and Seaford have been replaced with one in Georgetown.
They also discussed topics including filling prescription medications.
“A lot of people don’t know what’s coming to them because they don’t have a road map to get there,” Greener said.
Ultimately, the biggest advice was to sign up for the VA, even if people don’t think they need the service. Eventually, they may benefit from those due benefits, the speakers said. Plus, there is power in numbers as the VA seeks funding each year.
Delawareans can also find the Veterans Benefit Resource Guide online at https://veteransaffairs.delaware.gov/or by calling (302) 739-2792.
As for marijuana, Delaware now allows cannabis for medical use. The legislature considered but recently rejected it for recreational use, although possession has been downgraded to roughly the equivalent of a traffic citation now.
“As a society, we’ve come to embrace natural, organic stuff,” so why not shift that mindset to medicine? Arlett said.
Although Arlett didn’t share his opinions on recreational use, he said he supported cannabis for medical use, based on his own observations of addiction in his family.
“At the federal level, it’s not legal for vets through the VA. I think we should change that” to allow medicine and testing, Arlett said.
Meanwhile, he strongly criticized the “unbelievable corruption that exists with pharmaceutical companies and the distribution process … and the elected officials. … It’s no longer healthcare. It’s business.
For instance, he said, Congress OK’d rebates and “points” in the medical field, but Arlett said similar kickbacks would jeopardize his license as a real estate agent.
“The president is considering changing that via executive order. I think it needs to come through Congress,” said Arlett, who has opined that more laws should be enacted as such.
Arlett has also proposed “that we bring the VA back under the umbrella of the Department of Defense.
Although the VA is currently a standalone cabinet-level agency with its own budget, Arlett said he feels it would be less of an “afterthought” if brought back under the Department of Defense umbrella. Perhaps that could simply be in the form of recordkeeping for the vets, who have complained of the long waiting period for their records.
Arlett has also proposed a mentoring program to help vets assimilate back into civilian life. Soldiers are strong and proud people who don’t like asking for help, but who have also spent a career working under a commanding officer. With a mentor to help them ease into civilian life, veterans would have a support system and the “quasi-chain-of-command” they’ve come to expect.
They also discussed the idea of eliminating Delaware’s income tax for veterans’ retirement income, although Hocker said, “We’re in a state where I don’t see too many taxes lowered.”
Arlett suggested the local delegation raise the issue next legislative session (Collins and Gray are currently up for reelection this fall).
Although he called the July 10 event a non-political one, Arlett’s U.S. Senate campaign was one of the event sponsors, and Arlett is planning a series of town hall events statewide, of which this was one. And although Larence Kirby (executive director of the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs) had originally intended to serve on the panel, he canceled the night before, on the same day Arlett officially filed for the Senate election as a Republican.
(Arlett, who had previously cited Kirby’s planned attendance as evidence that the event was a non-political one, subsequently pointed out that Kirby is appointed by the governor, who is a Democrat, and invited the audience to speculate on his absence.)
In the Senate race, Republican Gene Truono Jr. has officially filed for Senate, as did Californian Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente (who has also filed in at least five other states, in an effort, he has said, to demonstrate the vagueness of the U.S. Constitution’s candidacy laws). Candidates for the Delaware Senate seat also include Democrats Tom Carper (the incumbent) and Kerri Harris, as well as Libertarian Nadine Frost and the Green Party’s Demitri Theodoropoulos.
Arlett did not file for reelection to the Sussex County Council.
Delaware’s Division of Public Health (DPH) this week warned Dagsboro residents who live in the residential area between Colonial Estates Avenue and Thorogoods Road in Dagsboro of a positive case of rabies in a fox that came into contact with a human last week.
DPH officials said the fox was killed and brought to the DPH lab, where test results on Monday, July 9, confirmed it had rabies. The fox was initially located underneath the front porch of a residence and came up on the porch when the victim came outside, officials said. While the fox bit the heel of the person’s shoe, it did not make contact with the person’s skin, they said.
Anyone in that area who thinks they might have been bitten, scratched or come in contact with the rabid fox should immediately contact their health care provider or call the DPH Rabies Program at (302) 744-4995, officials advised, noting that an epidemiologist is available 24/7. Anyone who thinks their pet may have been bitten by the fox should call their private veterinarian or the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) at (302) 698-4630.
Since Jan. 1, the Division of Public Health (DPH) has performed rabies tests on 73 animals, seven of which were confirmed to be rabid, including three foxes (including this one), two raccoons, a cat and a dog. The results of two cases previously reported as positive (one sheep and one dog) were indeterminate. (While DPH treats cases with indeterminate results the same as those with positive results, going forward the agency will report indeterminate cases out separately, they noted.)
In 2017, DPH performed rabies tests on 143 animals, 16 of which were confirmed to be rabid, including five raccoons, six cats, two dogs, two bats and a fox. DPH only announces those rabies cases for which it is possible the animal had unknown contacts with humans and there is a risk of exposure to the community.
Rabies in humans and animals cannot be cured once symptoms appear. If the animal is of unknown origin, or unavailable to be quarantined or tested, DPH recommends that people receive post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment — a series of four vaccinations — as a precautionary measure.
Rabies is an infectious disease affecting the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Infection can occur through the bite or scratch of an infected animal or if saliva from such an animal gets into the eyes, nose, mouth or an opening in the skin.
However, rabies is also almost completely preventable. DPH recommends that members of the public take the necessary steps to stay clear of exposure to rabies. Rabies prevention begins with the animal owner. Vaccination of pets and livestock is a crucial factor in rabies prevention, they said.
· All dogs, cats and ferrets 6 months or older are required by Delaware law to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Owners should consider vaccinating livestock and horses as well, officials said. It is recommended to consult with a private veterinarian for any questions regarding whether an animal(s) should be vaccinated against rabies.
· Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free.
· Spaying or neutering a pet may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and thus reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
· Do not keep a pet’s food or water outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.
· Keep garbage securely covered.
· Do not touch or otherwise handle unfamiliar animals, including cats and dogs, even if they appear friendly.
The Dagsboro Town Council during their monthly meeting on Monday, July 16, heard a preliminary proposal for a new Royal Farms location from Jonathan N.H. Street of architecture engineering firm Becker Morgan Group.
The new store is proposed to be built at the northwest corner of the intersection of Route 113 and Clayton Street (Route 26/Nine Foot Road) in Dagsboro, diagonally across the intersection from the existing Royal Farms, which it will replace. After the nearly 20-minute presentation, the council voted unanimously to approve the preliminary plans for Royal Farms to proceed.
The council members had questions about the entrances from Clayton Street, as well as concerns over crosswalks that are currently at the intersection. Councilman William Chandler expressed concerns about the safety of motorists and pedestrians alike, and also about the proposed turning lanes for the location.
Police Chief Floyd J. Toomey was able to ease some of those concerns, having reviewed the revisions of plans previously submitted to the Town’s Planning Commission.
“My biggest concern, if you recall, was with that congested area, was the crosswalk being there — but we moved that,” Toomey said. “We talked about it, we discussed it, and you’ve moved that. It used to go right across those three lanes that you’re talking about. So you would have not only the traffic, but you would have pedestrian traffic as well.
“And that’s been moved, and moved substantially. It was right across that. So that was my biggest, or what brought all that to fruition with my thought process. But that’s been moved and changed — and in my opinion, it’s a lot safer now by moving that pedestrian crosswalk out of the way.”
Royal Farms is a privately owned chain of convenience stores headquartered in Baltimore, Md. As of March 2015, the company operated 178 stores throughout Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia.
The new Royal Farms location is proposed to have seven double-sided fueling stations allowing for up to 14 vehicles to fuel up at one time. Farther west on the site are proposed diesel stations. The proposal also calls for a vacuum and air station. Currently, there are no plans to have a car wash on the premises.
The rear property line has a proposal for a 6-foot high white vinyl fence, as well as landscape buffering, while the front and sides of the property will have a 10-foot wide “shared use path.”
Also at the July 16 meeting, the council unanimously approved the hiring of Gregory Morris of Liguori & Morris of Dover as Dagsboro’s town solicitor.
What’s worse than a weed that nobody wants? For South Bethany, it’s a weed that everyone wants.
“We have a presence in our canals in the southern end… It’s the first time we’ve seen it,” Frank Weisgerber told his fellow South Bethany Town Council members on July 13.
Although algal blooms are down this year, a new grass has appeared instead, growing upward from the sediment in the canal beds.
After photos of the grass were sent to experts at the University of Delaware and Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC), scientists responded gleefully that South Bethany had widgeon grass. That’s really good news for a watershed.
Unlike algae, which blocks sunlight and eats up oxygen, widgeon grasses can “provide nursery grounds for fish and blue crabs, serve as food for animals such as turtles and waterfowl, clear the water by reducing wave action and absorb excess nutrients,” DNREC’s Shoreline & Waterway Management Section said, through spokesperson Michael Globetti.
“In marine environments, most efforts by states are now focused on restoring SAVs,” or submerged aquatic vegetation, Globetti said.
“They’ve been trying to get this grass to grow in the coastal bays, as well as the Chesapeake Bay. … Lucky us — we have it without even trying to,” Weisgerber said wryly.
But South Bethany doesn’t want it, and DNREC won’t let them remove it.
The thread-like grass grows about three feet tall, from the bottom sediment (which the Town hopes to dredge away at some point, to increase water depth and flow).
Boat propellers are getting tangled in this mass of grass and small leaves. That’s a big deal in South Bethany, where the majority of homes are canalfront.
“When our property owners show up this weekend, there’s going to be a firestorm,” Weisgerber said.
“The canal is filled with this stuff. I could walk across it, probably,” quipped Councilman Don Boteler, saying he’s seen the widgeon grass filling the Sussex Canal, touching both sides, but not literally thick or strong enough to walk on.
It’s a “boom or bust” species, meaning the grass could spread like wildfire one year then die out the next.
“They can’t even get it to grow where they want it to grow. … They’re like, ‘Boy, are you guys lucky!’” Weisgerber said of the Division of Watershed Stewardship. “I’m not sure we have much power in this.”
“But it started proliferating like crazy. Back then, you could barely see it. Now, they’re taking over the canals,” Weisgerber said “I’m scrambling right now to deal with this because … it might be good for water, but it’s not good for canals.”
Ironically, the grass appeared about the same time that South Bethany launched 10,000 cordgrass plants into the canals on 130 small floating wetlands to help build habitat and soak up excess nutrients.
Although South Bethany owns the canals, they still need DNREC permission for any water-based project, right down to removing live plants, building a homeowner dock or installing those 130 floating wetlands.
“This is not a question of the department not allowing the Town of South Bethany to take action on their own concerning widgeon grass, since the Town owns the lagoons. However, the department, knowing the environmental benefits associated with SAVs such as widgeon grass, does not harvest this vegetation,” Globetti stated.
Although he told the Coastal Point that “there are no DNREC regulations or permitting requirements prohibiting the harvesting of submerged aquatic vegetation. South Bethany can act on the widgeon grass as the Town sees fit,” Weisgerber said other DNREC staff would not allow South Bethany to cut the live grass.
In fact, DNREC staff made a July 18 visit to the canals just to see the grass. (“They had to lift the motor out of the water because it got all hung up,” Weisgerber said.)
Weisgerber has learned that the Town may remove the dead plants in the top-center of the canals, with no permits required. DNREC’s own algae harvester might even be available for that project.
But South Bethany still cannot harvest the live plants on the bottom or along the bulkheads.
According to Weisgerber, DNREC staff said, “‘We can’t allow you to touch the live stuff because it’s so beneficial to the watershed.’ I said, ‘We’re not running a nursery here. These canals are here for property owners and boating purposes.’”
Weisgerber said he has reached out to state Sen. Gerald Hocker Sr. for help, and he and the Town staff will research companies to clear the dead plants.
Ellen Magee of Williamsville, a Democrat, filed this week to run for the Sussex County Council seat representing District 5, which is currently held by Republican Robert Arlett.
Magee is a life-time Sussex County resident and is running, she said, to “preserve the Sussex County way of life.”
“I want to represent you, whether you were born here or you have made the choice to come here for our beautiful beaches and enjoyable lifestyle. It’s a great place to raise your children, and I will work tirelessly to make sure that never changes.”
As a multi-generational farmer, Magee has strong ties to agriculture and said she will work to ensure the environment gets the protection it needs.
Magee is a self-described “blue dog Democrat” with what she said are conservative values and bi-partisan goals.
“I am currently on the Sussex County Board of Adjustment and am known for my commonsense decisions and doing what’s best for Sussex County,” she said.
One of Magee’s top priorities, she said, is improving infrastructure and working closely with DelDOT so that the roadways in Sussex County function as they should.
“So many of our roadways have not been brought up to the standards that allow cyclists and motor vehicles to travel safely,” Magee said.
“Sussex County residents should expect more from their elected officials, and when I am elected to County Council, I will work tirelessly for the residents of the 5th County Council District.” Sussex County Council District 5 runs from Fenwick Island to Delmar, heads north to include parts of Millsboro and also includes the towns of Dagsboro, Frankford, Millville and South Bethany.
The Sussex Sports Center Foundation’s Joe Schell on July 17 presented to the Sussex County Council an update on the progress of the group’s new sports complex, Sandhill Fields.
Schell said the excavation and embankment of the facility near Georgetown was expected to begin the very next day, on July 18, with the grand opening of the facility currently scheduled for September of 2019.
The non-profit’s mission is to “build, operate and maintain a first-class multisport public park in the middle of Sussex County for its citizens of all ages to enjoy.”
During his presentation, Schell noted that while New Castle County has 247 public parks and Kent County has 38, Sussex County has none, aside from municipal parks.
The completed complex will feature eight regular-sized soccer/lacrosse fields, six pickleball courts with a pavilion, a 3.1-mile regulation cross-country course, 3.5 miles of walking trail, playground equipment, picnic pavilions, restrooms, a food-truck area and parking for 350 cars.
“Most of our kids from the youth sports teams — when they play sports on the weekends or practice during the week this time of the year… they’re practicing on second- or third-tier fields at middle schools or elementary schools… They only usually have two fields, and some of these teams have 1,300 kids on them… The facts are — we need more fields in one space.”
Schell said he believes the more than 215,000 people who live in Sussex County will benefit from the facility, including those who participate in sports clubs such as Henlopen Soccer Club, Salt Water Lacrosse Club and the First State Pickle Ball Club.
Sandhill Fields will be located close to Route 9 and Sand Hill Road near Georgetown, on 56 acres of property donated to the foundation by Schell himself.
Schell also had an update on the cost of the project. In previous presentations to the council, he had estimated the cost of creating the facility at $4 million; however, on Tuesday, he said they are now estimating $5.8 million in total costs.
“The nice thing is the County isn’t responsible for any of that increase,” he said. “The private sector is going to put up all the money necessary to complete the facility at this level or higher.”
Back in February, the council had approved loan documents for a $1.5 million loan to the foundation. The $1.5 million County loan has a 0-percent interest rate for 50 years, with no payments needing to be made in the first 10 years.
The County can purchase the complex after 10 years, at the cost of $1, and the loan would be forgiven in its entirety should that occur. If the County does not purchase the facility, the payments due to the County would be $37,500 annually, after those 10 years.
Schell said the foundation has spent a little more than $200,000 on engineering thus far, but will spend $1.3 million — which they currently have in the bank — on engineering the entire project.
Trooper Irina Celpan graduated from the Delaware State Police Training Academy in February of this year and has swiftly put her language skills to use. She is newly assigned to Troop 4 in Georgetown and is fluent in Russian and Romanian, in addition to English.
Celpan, from the nation of Moldova, has first-hand experience as a J-1 student during her time spent in the area in the summer of 2012. She participated in the work-study-based exchange and visitor program that promotes cultural interactions where visitors teach, study, receive training or demonstrate special skills. The J-1 program is also for students who need practical training that is not available to them in their home country.
Celpan’s Eastern European roots and excellent language skill sets have made her a great asset for the Delaware State Police and our local law-enforcement partners alike.
Celpan is lauded for her efforts and goodwill by her colleagues. She graciously makes herself available to the students working at the beach and makes them feel she is approachable. She has been in high demand from our local law-enforcement partners at the beach to help them with their community-outreach efforts.
Celpan has attended three safety seminars, on May 30, June 13 and June 27, that were held at the Edgewater House in Sea Colony near Bethany Beach. Working with the Bethany Beach Police Department, Celpan educated the foreign J-1 students on bicycle safety laws, victimization and personal safety this summer.
She had the opportunity to share experiences from her perspective as a student. She explained to the students the importance of having goals and pursuing them. She also touched on the differences between police in the United States and police back home in her country of Moldova.
On June 26, she was invited to Saint Martha’s Episcopal Church in Bethany for the International Student Picnic. While working with the Ocean View Police Department, Celpan attended this event with more than 100 students from Romania, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Croatia, Poland, Ireland and Kazakhstan.
The church volunteers welcomed the students with local foods, such as hamburgers, hotdogs, fried chicken and cookies. It was an opportunity for them to meet other students and local residents. Celpan spoke to both Romanian and Russian students, and answered questions about summer jobs, housing, trips, vehicle rentals, shopping and local transportation.
In 2012, Celpan worked as a cashier in Bethany Beach, at the Valero Gas Station on Route 26, and her second job was at Tim’s Aloha on the boardwalk, serving shaved ice. She had only two days off during the summer of 2012 and never complained, working toward her personal goals. She learned the quality of hard work and the ability of surviving in a country full of strangers.
She learned to speak English after she arrived in the United States and said, “It was challenging, but not impossible!”
She bought her first vehicle during the winter of 2013, which she said helped “me to spread my wings towards other jobs, other towns.” She was later hired at IHOP in Rehoboth as a server. She met many friendly and regular customers who encouraged her to go to college.
In August of 2015, she registered at the Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown. She took advanced English classes during the first semester at DTCC and obtained a certificate for finishing the English as a Second Language program.
She also pursued classes for a criminal justice major. She participated in the Law Enforcement Option Program during the last semester and graduated from Delaware Technical Community College with a 4.0 grade point average, with the Outstanding Student Award, in 2017.
She also joined the Dover cadet program for two years, where she enforced city ordinance violations and provided security and assistance at special events.
“I truly believe if you communicate to people in a way they can understand, one can make a connection; however, if you speak to them in their own language, it can touch their heart,” Celpan said. “I, as a Delaware state trooper, want tourists, international students and locals to understand that ‘justice’ has no limits and they should not be afraid to trust us.
“I want to thank my administration for allowing me to attend to all the J-1 student meetings!” she added. “I enjoyed every single second being around them and explaining to them the importance of trusting police. I answered questions about personal safety, bicycle safety laws and police departments. I spoke to some students in Romanian and to other students in Russian. I received positive feedback from the Sea Colony staff and the Saint Martha’s Church volunteers. Thank you so much!”
Sgt. Richard Bratz is the director of public information for the Delaware State Police.
S. Bradley “Brad” Connor announced this week that he has filed to run for the State House seat in the 41st Representative District. The 41st representative district includes Millsboro Dagsboro, Frankford, Selbyville and Gumboro.
Connor has lived in Sussex County since he was 10. He was raised in Bethany Beach and has been a business owner in Sussex County for 40 years. He served on the Dagsboro council from 1987 to 2005 and from 2012 to 2014, the majority of that time as mayor. He still serves on the Dagsboro Planning & Zoning Commission.
Connor is a past president of the Sussex Rotary and is still a member of the group. He has been married to his wife, Penny, for 36 years and has two grown children.
Connor noted that, along with agriculture and tourism being the two largest contributors to the Delaware economy, Sussex County has the fastest-growing population in the state.
“At the heart of that growth is the 41st district,” he said. “Millsboro alone has the highest growth rate of any municipality in inland Sussex County.”
Connor said he believes Sussex County, and especially the 41st Representative District, deserve a more equitable representation in the budget, based on their contribution to the state revenue.
As a representative, Connor said he would advocate for more involvement from state agencies to find solutions to the traffic and pollution problems that are affecting the residents of the 41st District and all of Sussex County.
Connor described himself as a fiscal conservative who believes spending needs to have tangible and measurable benefit to the people of Delaware. He said he has the contacts throughout the state to bring the appropriate assets to bear on the issues confronting the county.
He cited a proven track record in the area that he said is demonstrated by his securing funding, in his capacity as mayor, from various agencies to install a new water treatment facility for Dagsboro. He also obtained $2.9 million of grant and aid for sewer in 1998 and obtained $3.8 million grant and aid for central water in 2005.
Connor said he will bring that ability to negotiate in favor of his constituents to the House of Representatives.
A broken staircase was the final straw.
In South Bethany, Joe Hinks is responsible for building inspections, permits and penalties. Then he discovered that a faulty outdoor staircase in an oceanfront home had been repaired with no more than a spliced piece of deck board. It was cracked, unsafe and not suitable for renters, he said.
“Right now, there’s a set of stairs on a rental home that does not have any support. It’s very shaky,” Hinks had told the South Bethany Town Council in June.
But when the property owner applied for permission to make the renovation, Sussex County only issued a permit, with no real inspection.
To better ensure safety in local buildings, Hinks proposed that the Town adopt the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC), as has been done, in whole or in part, in other local towns, including Bethany Beach, Millville, Rehoboth Beach, Milford and Harrington.
“As a Town, it would give me the codes that I needed to say, ‘Here’s what we need for safety … for the smoke detectors, for the infestations, for the mold and mildew, the over-occupancy of the structure.”
Hinks said he doesn’t see the IPMC directly conflicting with existing town code, but rather providing extra leverage to address existing problems, such as grading. Where they differ, the stricter rule would prevail.
“I’m not advocating doing away with our town code. This is an approach to … bolster it,” Hinks said, adding that it would help with problems such as commercial trash container complaints (South Bethany doesn’t have a commercial property maintenance code, but the IPMC does) and the grading of property to avoid accumulation of water (which is a “hot issue” in the town but only vaguely addressed by town code).
“Joe’s doing the best he can. I know he’s out there writing letters to people, but part of it is, ‘How do we enforce the letter?’” Mayor Tim Saxton said.
The $100 fine for code violations doesn’t always incentivize property owners to fix the problem, Hinks noted, and such violations are generally not considered worth the Town pursuing in court.
The power to permit
The County doesn’t look closely at renovations as they do new construction, Hinks said.
Not all repairs or renovations will trigger an inspection, explained Andy Wright, Sussex County’s chief of building code. The County inspects major renovations and additions primarily to reassess whether property value has changed, for taxation purposes. (Besides their own inspections, the County also performs some building inspections for certain municipalities with small code departments, including South Bethany.)
The Town, County, Office of the State Fire Marshal and state health department all have their own rules, and sometimes there are gaps where their mandates don’t cover every nuance of building safety.
Hinks said another homeowner had “fixed” holes in an exterior wall by stapling placemats to the area and painting it blue.
“Going in, we found out there was a termite infection. There was no clear path to egress, there were not working smoke detectors. … We have no mechanism to control that,” Hinks said.
“Someone is eventually going to be hurt by these failing structures,” Hinks said. “We’re looking for the basic functionality for health and safety.”
The IPMC wouldn’t allow for dilapidated homes. But Hinks emphasized that South Bethany is fortunate not to have the “epidemic of dilapidated homes” that he saw as a building official in Salisbury, Md.
Council Member Sue Callaway also recommended the Town consider a mechanism for revoking rental permits for houses in disrepair. But Saxton warned against the Town entering the rental inspection business.
Meanwhile, the Fourth Amendment prevents Hinks trespassing on private property just to look around. But he is obligated to respond if someone submits a complaint about a household. So if he sees a porch that is breaking, he can call and request to inspect the property. If his offered inspection is rejected by the property owner, he could take it to court.
Discussion on the issue will likely continue at the next town council workshop, on July 26 at 3 p.m. If the council decides to pursue the matter, they would likely have it vetted by the Charter & Code Committee.
No votes on personnel
The council also went into closed executive session on June 28 to discuss personnel but took no votes afterward. After predicting 15 minutes of discussion, the council talked privately for just over an hour. Afterward, Callaway said that they just wanted to discuss how things run. She did not indicate that the topic needs to continue at a future meeting.
Also, Public Works Supervisor Don Chrobot will retire on Aug. 1. Although the Town will advertise to hire a new supervisor, Town Manager Maureen Hartman said she is assessing the Public Works Department to determine the needs of the department moving forward.
Saxton and Callaway, meanwhile, recently held a town-hall meeting with South Bethany Police Department employees. The goal, they said, was to introduce themselves as the new mayor and mayor pro-tem, meet the staff and gain feedback.
Bigger, better beaches
Beach replenishment in South Bethany continues at a steady clip southward. As of July 18, dune crossing closures were in place at some of the town’s southernmost streets. Daily notices about beach closures are posted at town hall; on the Town website under the tab “Beach Replenishment Daily Closures”; and on the Town’s Facebook page.
The large-scale engineering project will rebuild the dune and widen the beach back to its original specifications from the 2007 “50-year” reconstruction, which is intended to reduce the impact of future storms.
South Bethany now has a new ad hoc committee for Beach Access Improvement, chaired by Jimmy Oliver.
“It’s basically trying to develop a plan and some costs around it,” said Saxton. “We’ll be looking at ways to improve access to our beach. … The plan, as I understand it — they’ll look at each beach access and then make proposals. … It’s probably the best time to do our evaluation, since the dunes are being done.”
In general, Saxton said, he doesn’t want ad hoc committees to work for more than four months, but he acknowledged it may result in a few years’ worth of projects, depending on the results.
The topic of beach access (such as handicapped accessibility) often ranks high on town surveys.
The Town has also begun receiving public complaints about canopies on the beach — especially when grouped together. Similar complaints led to a total ban on canopies, tents and other shading devices on the beach in Bethany Beach, which now permits only standard beach umbrellas and “baby tents.”
“I hope it never gets so bad we have to do something about it,” Saxton said.
In other South Bethany news from July:
• Wayne Schrader has not officially taken his oath of service at town hall. Since winning the 2018 election in June, he had excused absences for two meetings and participated via remote access (telephone) for two meetings.
Schrader said illness accounted for some of his time away. Also, after selling their South Bethany house, his family is currently building a new home on another property in town.
Town council policy allows remote access for no more than 20 percent of meetings (typically four). After three absences, the fourth will be considered unexcused, and council will meet with that member to consider what action is appropriate to pursue.
In 2017, Schrader chose not to run for a second term, citing a busy work schedule in Virginia. Now retired, he ran for office again in 2018.
• In just a few months, South Bethany has collected 46 percent of its budgeted realty transfer taxes for the fiscal year, originally budgeted at about $380,000. Treasurer Don Boteler suggested a building boom may have resulted now that people have more freedom to build with recent code changes regarding bathrooms, building height and ground-floor enclosures.
• With all the new housing construction, resident Ed Nazarian complained of road conditions, especially when utility trucks tear up the pavement and building contractors park incorrectly. Planning Commission Chairman Dick Oliver said that courts had overturned an attempt to limit summertime construction, since such a ban would infringe on people’s right to work.
• In a year with high vehicular fatalities, Delaware Office of Highway Safety officials have said they are impressed with South Bethany’s pedestrian safety projects. They invited the national OHS to visit the town in mid-July to witness the pedestrian safety campaigns in action.
• The South Bethany Police Department is also in full construction mode for its building “repurposing” project. After some growing pains during floor installation, they will begin re-connecting major electronics and systems.
• Officials noted that Black Gum Drive re-opens daily at 1 p.m., even if the physical barricade is not promptly removed promptly. So, after 1 p.m., vehicles may drive around the barricade if it is still in place.
• The council unanimously agreed to contribute $3,500 to the Association of Coast Towns (ACT) for the hiring of consultant Tony Pratt, a recently retired administrator from Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC). He would discuss and help solve problems for seven beach towns from Lewes to Fenwick Island.
• The Town recognized Pat Voveris and Tim Shaw for their hard work and years on the town council.
• Once again, the South Bethany float won gold in the Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade.
• Callaway complimented the Town’s Junior Lifeguard program as “absolutely amazing. They’re doing a terrific job. I am so impressed with what they’re teaching the kids. … They’re out there in the deep water with the kids.”
A South Bethany Town Council workshop was set for Thursday, July 26, at 3 p.m.
A midday chemical spill closed Hosier Street in Selbyville on Thursday, June 12, at Mountaire’s Selbyville poultry processing plant.
According to authorities, a forklift operator inadvertently pierced a hole in a 500-gallon container of peracetic acid around 11:40 a.m. The hazmat incident occurred at the main building at 55 Hosier Street, right where live-haul trucks are backed into the plant, which sometimes briefly stops traffic.
Mountaire uses peracetic acid as a disinfectant. It’s related to peroxide, a compound of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, but can be corrosive.
“Mountaire received it in diluted form, [which] basically turns into a very strong vinegar, and that’s what the smell was — of a strong vinegar — on the scene,” said Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company Chief Matt Sliwa. “We’re lucky that they get a diluted version,” he said, because at full strength, peracetic acid is lethal at an exposure of between 1 teaspoon to 1 ounce per 150-pound person, according to the EPA.
Mountaire hired an outside cleanup agency immediately. Crews set up “dams” to prevent liquid from flowing into street drains. Then they soaked the chemicals up in a dry, ashy substance, something like an “industrial kind of kitty litter,” Sliwa said. Finally, they swept up the material using street sweepers and/or vacuums, Sliwa said.
Fortunately, Sliwa said, there were “fairly minor injuries. No one actually had any skin exposure to it. It was breathing issues or inhalation.”
Of the six people injured, two went to Atlantic General Hospital, two to Beebe Healthcare and two refused to be transported, said Selbyville Police Chief W. Scott Collins.
“We turned it back over to Mountaire once we were confident they had a plan, so we left it in DNREC and Mountaire’s hands,” around 1:45 p.m., Sliwa said. “There was no danger to the environment or the public. They got it contained very quickly, and they were quick with the cleanup efforts on it.”
Operating under the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC), the Division of Waste & Hazardous Substances also sends emergency response crews to such spills, as was the case in February of 2017, when there was a chemical explosion between two cleaning chemicals at the plant. While the explosion was deemed “minor,” it caused serious burns to the victim on Mountaire’s cleaning crew.
Also at the Selbyville plant, Mountaire had a roof fire in April, when an electrical transformer failed.
Mountaire representatives were not available for comment immediately after the incident.
“Their safety response team did a great job to get it contained,” said Collins.
Several volunteer fire companies responded, along with Sussex County paramedics. Although Mountaire could have relied more heavily on the volunteer fire company for cleanup, Sliwa said, he was impressed that the company asked the industrial cleanup agency to report to the scene immediately.
The road was cleared by about 2:15 p.m., Collins said. “They ended up shutting the plant down and letting their morning shift go home.”
To report environmental spills, trash dumping, violations of environmental laws and other issues to DNREC, call (302) 739-9401 or the 24-hour, toll-free complaint line at 1-800-662-8802.
Two men in their 20s passed away last week in Ocean View, from an apparent heroin overdose.
“They were living in Ocean View, but both of them are originally from Maryland,” said Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin, noting that the names of the victims will not be released prior to notification of kin.
On Thursday, July 12, at 11:23 p.m., officers from the Ocean View Police Department were called to a home on Central Avenue in Ocean View. When they arrived, the officers discovered the bodies of the two deceased men.
Earlier in the day, police said, concerned coworkers had visited their rental home in Ocean View, after the two men had failed to show up for work at a local restaurant. One co-worker peered through a window and saw the men lying on the floor and subsequently alerted police, they said.
The victim’s bodies were turned over to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science for an autopsy. The identities of the victims and the official manner and cause of their deaths will be released once autopsies are completed.
“We’re waiting on the autopsy to come back. At the same time, we do know they purchased drugs late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning. We’re working to determine where and from whom they made that purchase,” said McLaughlin. “The overall goal is to identify the person who sold them the drugs… That person who sold the drugs can be held responsible.”
Ocean View police received assistance during the investigation from officers from the Delaware State Police, and the Bethany Beach and South Bethany police departments.
McLaughlin said there have been a number of other overdoses recently in Sussex County and in the Salisbury, Md., area. He said it’s possible they’re all linked to the same drug dealer.
“We are working with investigators in the State of Maryland as well, because there are some commonalities,” he said.
McLaughlin said the heroin problem in Delaware continues to grow, noting on Tuesday, July 18, around 9 a.m. that there had already been two Sussex County emergency center (SussCom) calls that morning for overdoses in the county.
“This is just another indication that this problem is not going away,” he said. “It’s getting worse; it’s not getting better. They’re telling me now we’re losing one a day in the state of Delaware.”
The two deaths this week weren’t the only apparent drug-related incidents the OVPD has dealt with recently. On Tuesday, June 26, at 4 p.m., an officer from the Ocean View Police Department was dispatched to the Millville Town Center to check on the welfare of a man who was passed out on a bench outside of the Giant grocery store.
According to the OVPD, upon arrival, the officer found the victim to be unconscious and unresponsive, with his face was turning blue, indicating oxygen deprivation.
McLaughlin said his officer, suspecting a heroin overdose, searched the victim and discovered suspected heroin and suspected drug paraphernalia. The officer then administered two doses of naloxone and initiated CPR.
A second Ocean View officer arrived on the scene and administered two additional doses of naloxone, police said, and shortly thereafter, the victim resumed breathing on his own and regained consciousness.
“It’s just another example of us being able to spare a life,” said McLaughlin, whose department was the first law-enforcement agency in the state of Delaware to carry the life-saving overdose-reversing drug. “This person was literally moments away from death…
“Without a doubt [our officer] saved that person’s life. It gives them another chance to, hopefully, get clean… Hopefully, they’ll take advantage of it.”
The Millville Volunteer Fire Company transported that victim to Beebe Healthcare for additional care.
McLaughlin said that anyone in the area suffering from drug addiction or who wants to help a friend or loved one suffering can reach out to his department.
“They can call and ask for me specifically. Although we’re nowhere where we need to be, we are making a little bit of progress, and we have more opportunities for help,” he said. “If someone comes to us, we will do everything we can to get them in a facility or get them to the right people who can provide them help.”
The Ocean View Police Department is located at 201 Central Avenue in Ocean View. McLaughlin can be reached by calling (302) 539-1111. To learn more about statewide programs related to addiction, visit www.helpisherede.com.
Michael Hess was walking along the Fenwick Island beach at James Street on Sunday, July 8, before sunrise, searching for hidden treasure with his metal detector. His normal routine was interrupted by an unusual sight ahead of him.
Upon closer inspection, he came to realize what he had thought was a coconut washed ashore was a sea turtle laying her eggs — a loggerhead sea turtle, to be exact.
Hess managed to flag down another man on the beach, who monitored the turtle with Hess’ wife as he went to notify police of his finding. On his way up the beach, he saw a woman and asked her to call the police.
The turtle was already laying eggs at 5 a.m., when Hess arrived. By 7 or 7:30 a.m., 78 eggs were buried in the sand, and the mother headed toward the ocean.
The police roped off the area surrounding the nest, as instructed by the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute Inc., or MERR Institute.
The MERR Institute is a non-profit rescue and research organization that provides 24/7 on-call service for “ill, injured, entangled or otherwise in need” marine mammals and sea turtles. The organization also conducts research on reported strandings.
According to NOAA Fisheries, “a stranding is an event in the wild where a marine mammal or sea turtle is found dead on the beach or shore or floating in U.S. waters; when a marine mammal or sea turtle is alive on the beach or shore, but unable to return to the water due to sickness or injury or some other obstacle; when a marine mammal or sea turtle is in the water, but is unable to return to its natural habitat without assistance.”
“My responders were on scene since 8:30 a.m. and were there throughout the day until we got authorization to move the nest,” said Suzanne Thurman, executive director of the MERR Institute.
Sea turtle nesting is overseen by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Delaware has an agreement with the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act. The MERR Institute responders had to receive permits from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC) to be able to move the eggs, because loggerhead sea turtles are endangered in the northeast Atlantic Ocean.
Due to the time-sensitive nature of the matter, DNREC Environmental Program Administrator Robert Hossler gave Thurman his verbal approval to transport the eggs, about 3 p.m. The eggs would not have survived high tide that evening or the impending beach replenishment project. The relocation area will not be disclosed.
“We then kept watch over the relocated nest throughout the night, and the following day, until a predator excluder could be put into place, which was done by DNREC. We did this to deter predators, such as foxes, raccoons, crows and gulls,” Thurman added.
The predator excluder is essentially fencing to protect the eggs until they hatch, in approximately 68 to 75 days.
Although sea turtles are common to the area — the MERR Institute has already responded to nine incidents involving sea turtles this season — it is not normal for them to be nesting on Delaware beaches. The only other sea turtle nesting reported in the area was in 2011, when a green sea turtle laid eggs at Cape Henlopen State Park.
“This is the first time ever that a loggerhead came this far north to lay her eggs,” Hess said. “It is history-making.”
There are several other reasons why the nesting was rare. Female sea turtles usually nest collectively, but the sighting was of a lone mother turtle. Additionally, the loggerhead only had three flippers.
“She was missing the back right flipper that is used to dig the hole to lay eggs and cover it,” Hess said.
He recalled that about 20 people gathered for the extraordinary sighting, but those present remained at least 15 feet away from the nest and restricted others from accessing the area.
“It’s amazing how people came together,” Hess said, reflecting with pride on everyone’s efforts that day.
Under a full moon in June, about a dozen people strapped headlamps to their foreheads, grabbed clipboards and hiked to the waterfront at James Farm. They would be counting and tagging horseshoe crabs until nearly midnight, as the crabs came ashore for mating season.
The Indian River Bay gently nudged at the long sandy beach, hidden outside Ocean View. Horseshoe crabs were already nudging together in groups and pairs, under the shallow waves.
“We have to be there as the high tide starts to recede,” explained Dennis Bartow, biologist and lead survey coordinator. “That’s the official counting time that’s consistent with all the sites along the Delaware Bay.”
One by one, the tagging team pulled an endless parade of horseshoe crabs from the water. They recorded the sex and approximate age on a clipboard, and then drilled a hole in the corner of their shells to attach a round white numbered tag. Then they tossed the crabs back into the bay, without ceremony. (The crabs can probably handle it. They’ve probably survived worse than humans in their several million years on earth.)
“We don’t disturb any nesting ones, but anything that’s moving is fair game,” Bartow said, wading in the water around 11 p.m.
Meanwhile, the counting team did a random sampling along 200 meters of beach, counting crabs every few meters.
Although the males clung onto the females’ backs, they don’t actually mate in the mammalian sense. Instead, the female lays her eggs deep, digging into the sand with her sharp tail. The male (sometimes more than one) is pulled right behind her to fertilize the newly laid eggs.
Over 40 days, the babies mature in the shell and come to the surface. The survivors slowly make their way into the bay, trying to avoid fish and the generations of shorebirds that have built their migrations around this all-you-can-eat crabby buffet.
Man and crab
The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays (CIB) has been counting crabs since 2008, this year with six sample sites around the bays.
They aim to count 15 times from late April to June, always at the full moon or new moon, plus two days before and two days after.
“We want to find out where our horseshoe crabs go. We know we have a population in the inland bays,” Bartow said. “We want to know: do they stay in the inland bays, or go?”
They’re tracking crabs around the Delaware Bay, Ocean City, Md., and Wallops Island, Va., up to Connecticut and south to the Carolinas.
On this night, volunteers counted 267 crabs, including 210 males and 57 females.
On some nights, they see fewer than 10 crabs at James Farm. On their highest nights, they averaged in the 700s, topping out at 1,059. There are usually way more males than females. On the busiest nights, the males can outnumber females roughly 9:1, although 5:1 is more common.
Once the baby crabs have hatched and made their way back into the water, they’ll have about 18 molts in 10 years, and then the mature crabs will return to the shallows to begin reproducing.
Horseshoe crab species come in three Asian varieties, plus the one American version found on the East Coast from Maine to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
While they’re called “crabs,” the American horseshoe crab, or Limulus polyphemus, is actually closely related to spiders and scorpions. But these gentle monsters are nothing to be squeamish about.
“They cannot hurt you. They have a lot of claws” that aren’t hard enough to puncture skin, Bartow said, as a crab clung to his hand like a baby monkey.
The tail isn’t poisonous, only sharp enough to startle bare feet, like anything else hidden in the sand. With no teeth, they enjoy eating small clams and worms.
Just don’t get any fingers caught in the shell hinges as the creature bends its abdomen.
Life and death
In their 21-year lifespan, their death can be important, ecologically and scientifically. The eggs fuel shorebirds that migrate from the southern tip of South America and Africa to the Arctic. As a baitfish, horseshoe crabs are popular bait for whelk and eel.
Finally, the famous cornflower-blue blood of horseshoe crabs has not been duplicated in the laboratory, and it’s the only known substance that can test for bacterial contamination in drugs, vaccines and medical devices, such as pacemakers and prosthetics.
Bartow explained that limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) is extracted from the blood, then rehydrated in laboratory tests. If it remains a liquid, things are good. But if the LAL reacts to form a gel, the substance is contaminated.
“There’s no synthetic substitute for it,” Bartow marveled.
“They’re been around for [over 400] million years. They’re survived five major extinctions. They outlived the dinosaurs. … Hopefully, they continue,” if humans don’t ruin their homes, Bartow said.
How have they survived for so long?
“They have a specialized area they live and feed on,” Bartow said.
With a low profile and hard shell that has inspired generations of battle-bots and Roombas, the horseshoe crab lays low in deep, warm waters in winter.
And yet, spawning grounds must be precise: a certain slope of sandy coastline that drains back with just enough moisture.
The female will lay a million eggs in her lifetime (80,000 to 90,000 eggs each year), in clusters of several thousand light green or orange BB-sized balls. Of those, 55 will survive to age 2, when they’re about 4 inches. (In the Southern states, their timelines are a bit faster and shorter, where warm temperatures speed things up.) The lucky ones live about 21 years in this temperate zone.
The male bumps along the dark seafloor, attempting to mount anything in the way, including rubber boots. Crabs have 10 eyes, or light sensors, including the main pair on top (which look like traditional eyes), plus more on top, underneath and on the tail itself.
To the untrained eye, the males and females look nearly identical. But the front lip of the male’s shell is slightly bowed, to fit over the female’s abdomen, which is more curved. He climbs on the back of her shell and hangs on with two front pincers.
Females are usually larger, since they can live longer and have an additional molt.
Their age can be determined by size, color and condition of a shell. Like many other seafaring vessels, the crab shells collect barnacles, slipper shells, worm tubes and algae.
The tag data is also sent to the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife. This summer, at least 800 crabs had already been tagged at James Farm, plus another hundred or so on this warm June night.
Based on density, it turns out that the inland bays are almost as important for the crabs as the larger Delaware Bay, which is world-renowned for its horseshoe crab activity. (Prime Hook during birding season, anyone?)
In 2016, the CIB counted a total of 14,527 crabs in the inland bays.
But are horseshoe crabs declining at James Farm? This year saw 5,170 crabs, compared to 6,830 in 2017; 7,372 in 2016; and 7,651 in 2015. Anything could affect the daily counts, including wind, rain, salinity, water temperature and wave action. After enough counts, though, a solid average should be emerging.
But as long as horseshoe crabs show up, the CIB volunteers will keep counting. They have fun, joking and laughing amid the work. Some have been counting since the beginning, while others just joined this spring after hearing a lecture.
For more information or to volunteer for the CIB’s 2019 spring surveys, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (302) 226-8105, ext. 112. Details are online at www.inlandbays.org/projects-and-issues/all/horseshoe-crab-survey.