Letters to the Editor
Milton: Vote no on March 24 referendum
Milton, the Water Systems Improvement Referendum Saturday, March 24, should be voted down. A no vote will not bring the world to an end; on the contrary, I believe that mayor and council will then do what should have been done over 14 months ago.
A legitimate mayor's task force of anywhere from seven to 15 Miltonians from across our town and representing our many diversities will be convened and tasked with getting us every option and alternative available to this town as regards our water system and its legitimately needed improvements. And all can be done openly!
Sound representation, public involvement every step of the way - this is what will foster the much-needed transparency - the complete honesty and openness with the public that has been so sorely lacking as regards this and far too many enterprises dealt with thus far under this administration.
Transparency will drive the task force and its mission.
Again, this will mean that instead of holding just one public hearing on this huge issue for our town, then hurriedly scheduling two public meetings, now regularly scheduled meetings and updates on progress would take place.
This is how towns work together and come together over major challenges they face, and especially as regards committing our town to $3.45 million over 30 years!
When a town needs to borrow money and for whatever reason, it is tough to walk away from a potential half-million-dollar interest forgiveness.
However, that amount is neither guaranteed, nor is it impossible that this offer or potentially better offers tailored to meet the town's genuine needs, can't be secured in the future.
A mayor's task force working with complete transparency and understanding their charge to serve in the public interest, such a committee will hold the town's consulting engineering firm to task as well.
They will make sure those consultants produce every conceivable option. They will obligate the consultants to do so and with no conflict of interest when it comes to fair and open bidding. The consultants' work will not be a rush job where it becomes clear that citizens on their own volition, garnered more possibilities for improving Milton's water system than the so-called experts.
And if this service for dollars paid cannot be rendered, then the town will need to turn elsewhere for consulting services.
Lewes library already in great spot
Lewes, Delaware, is one of those towns - one of those few towns - that does a tremendous job of keeping itself intact historically while continuing to make it a vital place to live and work and play. I view the Lewes Public Library as just one of the examples of what results from thoughtful municipal leadership and active citizen involvement.
The current library is a beautiful place that has maintained its tradition and history while remaining vital to continuing generations and keeping the community involved and interested. Its location is key to its success - its proximity to the town center and to its citizens contributes greatly to its success and vitality. I like the town and its library so much that I recently became, formally, a Friend of the Lewes Public Library. As a friend and a fan of Lewes and its beautiful library, I feel very strongly that it should remain in its current location.
Moving a public/educational/community service like the library to a location that will make its use more dependent on auto transportation defeats a number of purposes. It moves it away from the heart of the civic body, so to speak, discourages local use and foot traffic, and contributes to the type of decentralization that many communities are trying to now turn away from.
Enough of the beach-area businesses and services are dependent on motor traffic for utilization without Lewes’s public library becoming yet another one of them. One could even view keeping the Lewes Public Library where it is as a green decision.
I urge the boards and bodies that have control over this decision-making process to decide in favor of keeping the library where it is, perhaps expanding its current space - which is one of the considered options, I understand - and allowing it to remain a living part of a great community.
Dewey commissioner defends actions
The article in the March 15 Cape Gazette and the editorial in the March 20 newspaper described the policy being considered by the Dewey Beach commissioners to allow temporary expansions of premises by Dewey businesses. Some people mistakenly believe that the council sent the breast cancer fundraiser expansion of premises event to the planning commission and that council is not supportive of breast cancer fundraisers. Here are the facts:
The Dewey Town Council voted yes in January to all three Starboard events. The town council was then advised by the town attorney that the code had to be changed to allow the three events. One commissioner proposed an ordinance to make the change, but it went much further, giving businesses unlimited expansions of premises in the off season.
I questioned the permit fee of $100 to the town for these events, thinking that it might not be the appropriate amount for tent events that create trash, security and sanitation issues. Dewey does not have trash cans out in the off season and trash has been a problem in the streets in-season and off-season. Dewey police have skeletal crews on duty in the off season and cannot handle large crowds without proper planning.
While some businesses voluntarily provide more security and bathroom facilities, the ordinance as drafted does not require it, posing a potential problem if business owners do not consider this in their event planning.
Town council referred the ordinance, on the advice of staff, to the planning commission for analysis. Public comment needs to come from business and residential property owners.
Some people have the misguided notion that council voted against the breast cancer fundraiser, when in fact council had to table that specific event request until the authorizing legislation allowing more than two events can be reviewed by the planning commission and enacted. The only vote by the commissioners about the breast cancer fundraiser event previously is a vote in favor of it.
The evidence suggests that the town council supports additional off-season events, given the initial vote in favor of the three events. The town council is working hard to promote Dewey, to create a balance that works for everyone and welcomes ideas for more events. It’s great to see such a spirited debate, but let’s make it a debate about how we can best manage the activities in season and in the off season, not whether this town council supports fundraising for breast cancer research and awareness. And let’s all agree that fundraising for charity is worthwhile and should be encouraged with the proper management.
Dewey Beach commissioner
Proud father invites all to MCC groundbreaking
My son told my wife and me he was gay in 1991. He was 19 years old. We were shocked. We had not talked about gay men or lesbian women. However, from the culture we lived in, I assumed all gay men were waiters or hairdressers. My son never planned to be a waiter or hairdresser. He loved camping and climbing mountains and was an Eagle Scout. He was making his journey to adulthood as had his older brothers and sister.
We were Catholics. An openly gay person was not welcome in our church. My son invited me to attend services with him in a Metropolitan Community Church about 15 miles from our home in northern Virginia. MCC was founded in California by Troy Perry, a Pentecostal minister defrocked due to his being gay. Since its founding in 1968, the MCC church has spread across the USA. I was surprised to meet doctors, grocery store clerks, electricians, attorneys, etc. I listened to a sermon like other Christian services. When my son came home from college and visits, we frequently attended MCC Fairfax together.
When I retired to Bethany Beach in late 2008, I attended churches advertising "open and welcoming" near my new home. I didn't feel comfortable discussing the issues my son faced as a gay man. The members I met were welcoming only if you didn't mention pride or concerns for a gay son.
Fortunately, three years ago, I attended and joined MCC Rehoboth Beach. I enjoy the fellowship of meeting other Christians who are comfortable with a father of a gay son.
After forming in Rehoboth Beach 20 years ago, MCC Rehoboth Beach is having a groundbreaking ceremony for its new building at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 25. There are 50 members, some living in Fenwick Island, Millsboro and Bethany Beach. Some of your readers are members of the gay community. They may appreciate information on this groundbreaking. If you need additional information, please contact me at 302-858-2943.
Booth warns not to act too hastily
Although there were senators and many citizens who were in favor of legalizing marijuana, it is proving to be an issue within the state of Delaware once again. Creating dispensaries in each of the three counties, otherwise known as Compassionate Care Centers, contradicts federal law, according to U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III. While I feel for those facing incredible and painful health concerns, it is our job as state legislators to not only look at what our constituents want but how that relates to what the federal government allows.
There was a heated debate both in committee and on the floor when it came time to hear SB 17. However, regardless of those debates, the law is the law, and we cannot place state employees or others in jeopardy until the federal government determines what is and is not acceptable in terms of medical marijuana. I, along with some of my fellow legislators, mentioned during the floor debate that SB 17 should be tabled, thus allowing us to further research the federal laws and effects that creating these dispensaries would have on the state of Delaware. I also cited federal code regarding medical marijuana as an illegal substance within the United States. It was surprising to me that neither the attorney general nor the medical society was available for comments during this debate.
When it comes to the health and safety of citizens, we must not act hastily. It is our duty to research all possibilities and compare them to the code, both state and federal. After we have looked at all of our options, it is then our job to decide what we think is best for the people. I believe that the state acted too quickly, and it is time we take a moment to review what is best moving forward.
Joseph W. Booth
Former representative endorses Lopez
As a Lewes resident and a former Republican member of the Delaware House of Representatives, I am excited about the chance for us to have Ernie Lopez represent us in the new 6th state Senate District with a victory in the Republican primary election Tuesday, Sept. 11, and the general election in November. This new Senate district includes Milton, Lewes, Rehoboth, Dewey and outlying areas west to Harbeson.
Ernie has an exceptional ability to work with people of varied interests and allegiances in a positive way. He wins people over by working together to solve problems. He will be very effective as our state senator in representing our interests here in Sussex County, in promoting the growth of small businesses and jobs here, and in preserving our wonderful quality of life. Sussex County representation is heavily outnumbered by the larger northern Delaware contingent, so it is important that we have the best representation possible. We need strong and effective leadership in these difficult economic times. Ernie Lopez will provide that leadership. He has the integrity and energy to do the job, and he will develop the relationships in the Senate necessary to be effective. Ernie has deep roots here. He has lived in Delaware for more than 30 years.
His wife, Janis, is a 1994 graduate of Cape Henlopen High School. She is an assistant dean in Lewes at the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. They have made their home here in Lewes with their two children, Anna and Claire. Ernie holds a master’s degree from Delaware and will be defending his doctoral dissertation this month. As the former associate director of undergraduate admissions for the UD, he became a well-known face to Sussex County families and educators for his work counseling and advising students. In 2006, Lopez was promoted to be the University's 4-H volunteer coordinator.
His current responsibilities include all aspects of recruitment, retention and risk management for over 3,400 adult volunteers and 64,000 youths in Delaware 4-H. Ernie knows how to work with people, and he's good at it! Ernie says, "My experience and expertise at marshaling the resources of a large institution for the benefit of our kids and families will be a strength as I seek to leverage state services to provide maximum benefit at the least costs to our residents." Ernie is a member of Epworth United Methodist Church in Rehoboth and active in the Sunday school program. He also serves on the board of the Sussex Child Health Promotion coalition.
As a former legislator I cannot overemphasize how important working together and building relationships in the Legislature is to being effective and to providing leadership for Sussex County. Ernie is well liked by anyone who knows him. He is hardworking, and has tremendous integrity. With two young children, he won't just be focusing on the present, but will also be looking ahead to preserve and improve our quality of life here in Sussex. Many of you will meet him as he goes door-to-door to introduce himself.
If you are registered as a Republican, please vote for and support Ernie Lopez in the September primary, and, regardless of registration, help him in November. He is the right candidate at the right time for the job.
Delaware House of Representatives
retired Delaware River pilot
Staton: Thanks for support of my vision
I am so thrilled by the outpouring of support from my friends and neighbors since I filed my paperwork to run for the state Senate last week. Your enthusiasm and encouragement, as well as your generous contributions, have shown me that you believe in our campaign for the 6th District.
Since I announced my candidacy, I have met with more than 100 community leaders over coffee, in meet and greets, and one-on-one who represent the diversity of our district. You listened to my ideas and have shared your insights, and supported my vision for the 6th District. I feel so fortunate to have so many wonderful and creative people who are willing, who have shared their ideas with me, and continue to show their support in so many ways. I promise that as residents and business owners of the community, you will continue to be the focus of my campaign.
However, I have so many more people to meet to discuss my strategy to bring long-term sustainable jobs, community-minded transportation services, and a plan to preserve the quality of life that we have come to know, while ensuring we are prepared for future growth. These are the issues that our campaign is about.
In the coming weeks I’ll start hitting the streets and listening to what you have to say about the future of our district and explain my vision. And I know I can’t do it alone. I need your input and contributions just as much as I need your votes this fall. By putting our heads together, we can build a foundation that will go beyond this election.
Your enthusiasm and drive are contagious, and, working together, we will make our voices heard Nov. 6. I am committed to winning this race and working hard to represent the people of the 6th District. Thank you for your support and encouragement.
I am deeply grateful to be your candidate for the state Senate.
candidate for the Delaware State Senate
The welfare of lower Delaware is in jeopardy
This is a harsh reality particularly in the communities of Long Neck and the surrounding areas. Due to the fact that SB97 (The Rent Justification Bill) failed in the state Senate, many senior citizens are walking away from their primary homes on rented land. Others are getting ready to do the same in the future without passage of this bill. Most have a misconception of this bill. They believe this to be a rent-control bill when in reality this bill only states that landowners are required to give a fair explanation to homeowners as to why monthly rents are increasing beyond a specific percentage. Not one resident of the Long Neck communities denies the landowners the ability to make money on their land, however, extreme inflation of rents needs to be explainable and fairly adjusted.
DMHOA is pushing to have this bill reintroduced in the Senate and the House. Passage of the Rent Justification Bill helps not only residents survive, but also the businesses of Long Neck. Many see this bill as the last remaining vestige to saving these communities and businesses from degradation and crime due to abandoned homes. Everyone needs to be concerned that this bill be reintroduced, supported throughout the state and passed. Currently you can voice your support of this bill with hundreds of others by going to Change.org and signing the online petition titled Delaware State Senate-Rent Justification Bill. Saving Long Neck is translating into saving the middle- class communities of lower Delaware.
Funeral home staff provided true comfort
I want to extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Keith Parsell and his staff at Parsell Funeral Home in Lewes for their extreme professionalism and outreach of concern that was offered to me during the loss of my spouse, Alfred Trapani Jr., on Oct. 7, 2011. This was an extremely difficult time for me, and the loss was more than I ever imagined. Keith Parsell was gracious, polite and honest, recognizing the pain I was going through. He was always on site, and met with me several times and never once pressured me to purchase items I may not have needed. I was truly thankful for the extra time I was granted so I could be with him before, during and after the viewings.
In addition, the night my spouse had passed, the funeral director and his staff came to our home immediately. They were soft spoken and gave me unlimited time so I could be with Al before they took him. Furthermore, seeing him for the first time before the public viewing took my breath away. I cannot express enough the comfort I felt the moment I saw Al. He looked perfect after suffering terribly with pancreatic cancer.
Keith Parsell gave me not only peace but a treasure. Much to my surprise was a portrait of Al that was prepared for me for the viewing. This humanitarian act was also a beautiful keepsake that still comforts me and enhances my home. Once again, thank you to Keith Parsell and his staff for making me feel so important and enabling Al’s memory to live on peacefully inside me.
Shields PTO thanks classroom sponsors
The PTO at Shields Elementary School would like to send out a huge thank you to the following sponsors for participating in our program this year:
Community Bank Delaware, Notting Hill Coffee/Lewes Bake Shoppe, Touch of Italy, MacIntosh Engineering, Lewes Gifts, Truitt Insurance, Mid-Atlantic Family Practice, True North LLC, The Lewes Building Company, Childs Play by the Bay, Dr. Ron Sabbagh, Blooming Boutique, Lucky Penny Produce and Flowers, Cardiovascular Consultants of Southern Delaware, PNC Bank, the G. Robert Myers M.D. family, Concierge by the Sea, Kids Cottage, SPI Pharma Inc., DDD Woodworking, Pat's Pizzeria - Lewes, Stancofski family, Dr. John Ludwicki, Pediatric and Adolescent Center, Custom Design Build Inc., Elliott family, Marshall, Wagner & Assoc. P.A., Zechiel family.
Each sponsor was partnered with a classroom. The classroom received 100 percent of the donated money to use at the teacher's discretion. So far, the money has been used for many things including classroom library books, individual dry-erase boards, classroom art supplies and much more. None of these purchases would have been possible without the support of our sponsors. Thank you again!
Shields PTO president
Thanks for returning my wallet in Lewes
To the two young men who found my wallet on the street in Lewes and returned it to my folks' place at Cadbury, I want to express my sincerest thanks!
Bill Gehron Jr.
Lewes woman praises LFD crew
The following is an open letter to the Lewes Fire Department ambulance squad submitted to the Cape Gazette.
A heartfelt thank you is due to you and your teams for your quick response to our emergency Feb. 9. My husband was in the throes of a heart attack and your arrival in mere minutes to my 911 call literally saved his life. Your expertise in handling this crisis was done so smoothly and efficiently. My praises for you are eternal. Thank you so very much. I'm sorry you are all nameless to me - to God you are not.
Col. Lechliter deserves our gratitude
A recent passionate letter to your paper harshly criticized a neighbor, Col. Jerry Lechliter, U.S. Army Ret., for filing a suit in federal court contesting the University of Delaware’s construction of a 410-foot tall industrial wind turbine in Lewes on state-owned open space. I’d like to provide your readers a different view of Col. Lechliter and his contributions to the quality of life in Lewes.
In 1998, the university sold about 75 acres of its former proposed research park (RP) in Lewes to Beebe Medical Center. Many did not know, however, that this acreage already had two identified major archeological sites with artifacts some 4,000 years old. Federal law required an investigation of the entire property before any construction by Beebe. Amazingly, a third site was discovered and had probable human remains, thereby complicating Beebe’s planned construction.
Beebe decided to sell its parcel to Cadbury, which had a far more grandiose plan for the 75 acres. Concurrently, the university agreed to sell about 100 acres of the RP across from Beebe’s land to Blenheim Homes for a major age-restricted housing development. The university invited local residents to meet the developer at the Virden Center only after the university and developer had a sales agreement in place.
Many residents, including Col. Lechliter, were deeply concerned when the scale of both projects was evident. We formed a coalition named Citizens Against Town Sprawl, or “CATS,” to investigate the issues. Most importantly, both the Cadbury and developer’s projects required public hearings by the city to rezone the parcel.
As a lead investigator for CATS, Col. Lechliter asked about the details of the original sale to Beebe and the federal, state and county grants given to the university to develop the RP in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the university. The university claimed an exemption to the FOIA, although it had received public funds of about $1.4 million to put in the infrastructure for the RP in the early 1980s. Col. Lechliter took this setback in stride, and through FOIA requests to federal and state agencies, obtained crucial information, including the entire federal grant packet.
What he, and “only” he, discovered was that the university had pledged 166 acres of this land as collateral for a federal grant of almost $1 million. He researched voluminous grant paperwork and the federal regulations, concluding the university sold some 33 acres to Beebe without obtaining the mandatory prior federal approval for the sale and paying the federal government the current market value for the land since it was not used for the intended purpose of the grant, i.e., the creation of a RP.
Only a small group knew of this discovery, and he suggested to the university politely to reconsider its pending sale and accept a state offer to purchase and permanently preserve the tract of about 260 acres as open space. When Col. Lechliter was quoted in the Cape Gazette about the sale to Beebe not complying with all appropriate laws, an attorney for the university stated that Col. Lechliter “was out of control” and did not know what he was talking about.
Col. Lechliter was not finished, however: He prepared testimony and packets, and because the university had received a state grant of $400,000 for the park, he attended the next hearing of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee when the university was presenting its request for state funds. He distributed his packets to the committee members and presented his testimony about the university’s unseemly behavior after the university’s presentation with both the chairman of the board of trustees and president of the university in the room.
The university clearly was embarrassed, and the pending sales contract with the developer was cancelled. Through the encouragement of former state Rep. John Schroeder, the university began negotiations with the state for sale of the land to the Open Space Program which was completed in 2002. Oh! Although the university had to pay the federal government about $192,000 for the infraction, the state received nothing. Col. Lechliter also was instrumental in defeating Cadbury’s rezoning request. He personally obtained the signatures of people living within 100 feet of the proposed zoning change opposing the rezoning and notified the city that the Delaware Code now required a super majority vote. The rezoning request was defeated in May 2000.
Now there is more to the story: Beebe found another buyer, and a new rezoning request was submitted to the city. CATS became Citizens Advocating a Livable Lewes (CALL) and was successful in defeating this initial request. With the encouragement of city council, CALL negotiated a smaller development with the owners, resulting in major concessions to preserve the archeological sites, donate about 50 acres of this land to the state and city, and construct greenway trails connector roads.
The action, time, and dedication of Col. Lechliter, therefore, have resulted in some very environmentally friendly actions: The conversion of some 260 acres into permanent open space, the acquisition of an additional 50 acres of open space, and preservation of several significant Native American sites related to Lewes’ earliest Colonial settlement.
The Overfalls Foundation also profited from his efforts: When it needed a site to replace wetlands lost to create the site for the Overfalls, another site within the 260 acres was chosen. That would not have been possible if private homes had been built on the land And now some year-round residents want to establish a dog park in an area preserved through his effort. That might have a lot of merit.
In the summer of 2010, CALL members personally asked Col. Lechliter to look at issues related to the wind turbine. He had been through trying times caring for his wife during her terminal illness and suffering personal injuries requiring surgery. He agreed only reluctantly to become involved. Yes, Col. Lechliter has initiated legal action in this matter, but only after the city, state and university refused to address any of CALL’s concerns after numerous attempts to open a dialogue with them. We wouldn’t bet against our neighbor in any fight he picks; he does his homework better than anyone we have ever known. People also forget that DRNEC signed an agreement to return the entire 260 acres to the university in 2009. That is now a dead issue.
We would like to revisit a letter CALL sent to Mayor Ford several years ago in which we suggested that his efforts to save this land for open space merits some portion of it, a street or park, to be dedicated in Lechliter’s name. CALL again calls on the mayor and city council to reconsider this request in honor of the leadership role he played in preserving over 300 acres for us, our children and our vacationers for generations to come. If you live in Lewes and are pleased there are hundreds of acres of open space off New Road, some new bike and greenway trails leading into the 300 acres back there, and a possible dog park, you might consider thanking Col. Lechliter when you see him walking around town. He loves this town, and he has left an incredible legacy of dedication, perseverance and hard work against some stiff odds. He has spent time and money to ensure the quality of life we all enjoy in Lewes. That is the Col. Lechliter we have come to know and admire.
On behalf of members of CALL: