Local News

County council gets an update from the Freeman Stage

Patti Grimes, of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, gave Sussex County Council an update on The Freeman Stage at Bayside on April 11.

“If you can believe it, this is our 10th year,” said Grimes. “We want to thank Sussex County for being such a great partner and to let you know that what started as a vision in an arts desert in 2008 has turned into a thriving arts area.”

Walking forward after 1960s heartbreak

Martel family fundraises for fatal childhood disease

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: After losing two babies to a genetic disease, the Martel family continues to support research for spinal muscular atrophy. Pictured here are parents, Pat (front) and Ken (right), and their adult children, Brian and Anne.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: After losing two babies to a genetic disease, the Martel family continues to support research for spinal muscular atrophy. Pictured here are parents, Pat (front) and Ken (right), and their adult children, Brian and Anne.When baby Michael Martel was taken to the hospital in February 1962, his parents never imagined that he wouldn’t come home again.

Then living in Baltimore, Ken and Pat Martel said doctors couldn’t properly diagnose their firstborn’s genetic disease until he died a few days later.

While dealing with their grief, the Martels raised two healthy children, but then suffered another loss. Their fourth and final child, Scott, showed signs of the same disease, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which destroys muscle control and causes overall weakness.

Scott and Michael were both dead at about 8 months old.

Irish folk star makes move to the coast after touring career

Special to the Coastal Point • Submitted: Irish folk artist Gerry Timlin will be performing at Dickens Parlour Theatre April 28 and 29.Special to the Coastal Point • Submitted: Irish folk artist Gerry Timlin will be performing at Dickens Parlour Theatre April 28 and 29.He’s played the Irish countryside, New York City, the west coast of the USA, Canada and the Caribbean too. He’s even performed for former President Barack Obama and Prime Minister of Ireland Enda Kenny.

But after a long and illustrious international career on tour, Irish folk artist Gerry Timlin is ready to rest his guitar case and take the stage in Slower Lower, now calling Delaware his new home.

“I was coming in from Pittsburgh around two weeks before Christmas on an absolutely glorious morning,” Timlin recalled of a particularly affecting early a.m. road trip taken shortly after making the move to Frankford from Philadelphia.

“When I got into Bethany for some reason I turned left at the totem pole, parked the car, put on my coat and went up the boardwalk. The sun was just starting to come up, the ocean was calm as it could be — I just found incredible peace and serenity there and then I thought to myself, ‘yeah, I’m home.’”

ITN Southern Delaware offers affordable, safe rides for seniors

Coastal Point • Maria Counts: ITN Southern Delaware is a community-based, community-supported, consumer-oriented, quality transportation service for seniors and adults with visual impairment.Coastal Point • Maria Counts: ITN Southern Delaware is a community-based, community-supported, consumer-oriented, quality transportation service for seniors and adults with visual impairment.For seniors in coastal Sussex County, hitching a ride from Point A to Point B can be a breeze with the transportation cooperative ITN Southern Delaware.

“This was borne out of an idea [Nancy Feichtl] had. She was approaching her senior years and wondered how she would get around. So she started exploring options for some kind of transportation options for seniors, because the alternatives are limited,” said Janis Hanwell, executive director of ITN Southern Delaware. “Through her research, she came across ITN America, a national nonprofit organization that provides transportation to seniors and adults with visual impairments.”

The Southern Delaware branch of ITN was begun in August 2015, with the first rides being provided on Dec. 1, 2015.

“At that time, we had 12, 15 active drivers and about 50 members. Today, we have close to 60 volunteer drivers and closer to 200 rider-members, said Hanwell, noting that the co-op surpassed 1,000 rides in December 2016.

Crooks named Delaware School Counselor of the Year

Coastal Point • Submitted: Erin Crooks of Georgetown Middle School was recently named 2017 Delaware School Counselor of the Year.Coastal Point • Submitted: Erin Crooks of Georgetown Middle School was recently named 2017 Delaware School Counselor of the Year.Erin Crooks of Georgetown Middle School has been named the 2017 Delaware School Counselor of the Year.

The award was given on April 10 by the Delaware School Counselor Association during its annual spring conference. Prior to winning the overall state award, Crooks was named Middle School Counselor of the Year by the DSCA in February.

Crooks came to Georgetown Middle School as a school counselor in 2009 after spending the previous two years as a counselor at Georgetown Elementary School. She is a member of Georgetown Middle’s Instructional Leadership Team and is the school’s AVID site team coordinator. One of her priorities during the past nine years has been taking GMS students on visits to college campuses. During that time, she has accompanied more than 350 students on visits to the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Morgan State University, Delaware Technical & Community College, Rutgers University and the University of Maryland.

Crooks is co-chair of the Sussex County Inter-Agency Council for Children and Families and a middle school representative for the Delaware Goes to College Advisory Council. She also served as an adjunct professor at Wilmington University in 2015-2016.

This is the second consecutive year, and third overall, that an Indian River School District counselor has won the state award. Other state winners were Cheryl Carey in 2016 and Lisa Hunt in 2005. It is also the fourth consecutive year that an IRSD counselor has won either the elementary or middle school Counselor of the Year award. Other district winners were Carey (2016 and 2007), Jan Bomhardt (2015), Cathy Showell (2014), Dawn Brasure (2009) and Hunt (2005).

School board approves $2.4M in budget cuts

The Indian River School District is making budget reductions, from administrative positions down to performing arts.

The board of education has begun voting on budget cuts for the 2018 fiscal year. Although the official budget won’t be approved until June, they’ve begun planning.

Burton to serve 30 years for Bennett murder

Matthew BurtonMatthew BurtonOn Wednesday, April 5, Dagsboro resident Matthew Burton admitted to having committed the rape and murder of Nicole Bennett nearly five years ago.

As reported by the Cape Gazette newspaper, Delaware Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley asked Burton if he raped and murdered Bennett.

“Yes,” replied Burton.

Burton, who was 28 at the time of the murder, is now 33. Last week, he pled guilty to second-degree murder, being sentenced to 40 years, suspended after 15 years, and second-degree rape, for which he was sentenced to 25 years, also suspended after 15.

As a result, Burton will serve a total of 30 years in a Level 5 prison facility, with credit for time served, after which he will serve 20 years on probation.

Utilities workers unearth leaky gas tank in Selbyville

A forgotten underground fuel tank in Selbyville was discovered to be leaking gasoline, officials reported this week.

Ocean View council approves budget without tax increase

The residents of Ocean View will not have a town tax increase this year, after the town council unanimously approved its 2018-fiscal-year budget at its Tuesday meeting with no tax increase involved.

The budget approval came following a final budget workshop last Thursday, April 6, at which the council reviewed its fifth budget draft for the year.

Mariner’s Bethel to mark Good Friday with cross walk

It’s about a 2-mile walk from Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church in Ocean View to the Bethany Beach boardwalk, but on Friday, April 14, a trek from one to the other represents a faith tradition more than 2,000 years old.

OVHS to host yard party for Evans-West House dedication

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” And for the Ocean View Historical Society, the preservation of history is important when looking to the future.

Millsboro Chamber preparing to light up the sky in July

No, those won’t be the Northern Lights people will see in the heavens above Millsboro on Saturday, July 1. They will be fireworks.

The Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce will be hosting Millsboro Stars & Stripes, a patriotic celebration of all things Independence Day, and everyone is invited.

Disciples to tell their tale in ‘Living Last Supper’

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: Jesus Christ’s disciples tell their stories in the ‘Living Last Supper’ performance at Millville U.M. Church. This year’s actors include, from left, Tom Maly, Chuck Erbe, Rich Spina, George Townsend, Bob Heird, David Long, the Rev. Brad Schutt, Garland Saville, Joe Skinner, Richard Shoobridge, Lee Brubaker and Donald Maeby.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: Jesus Christ’s disciples tell their stories in the ‘Living Last Supper’ performance at Millville U.M. Church. This year’s actors include, from left, Tom Maly, Chuck Erbe, Rich Spina, George Townsend, Bob Heird, David Long, the Rev. Brad Schutt, Garland Saville, Joe Skinner, Richard Shoobridge, Lee Brubaker and Donald Maeby.Art and religion come to life in the “Living Last Supper,” the story of Jesus Christ’s disciples, which will be presented April 12 and 13 by Millville United Methodist Church.

The one-hour performance begins with Jesus revealing that one of his disciples will betray him. The men are startled into the pose of Leonardo da Vinci’s 1498 painting “The Last Supper.”

One by one, each of the apostles tells his story, about life beforehand and how Jesus personally impacted them. Audiences will hear their regrets and the moments that moved them.

“It explains to the people what the people went through when they met Jesus, … plus after he was crucified,” said Joe Skinner, who plays Phillip.

“It humanizes the character we’re playing. It brings them to life,” said Rich Spina, who plays Andrew.

Burbage retires from South Bethany after 33 years

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: For her years of service, Dee Burbage received tributes from state Rep. Ron Gray, left, and state Sen. Gerald Hocker on behalf of the Delaware State Legislature.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: For her years of service, Dee Burbage received tributes from state Rep. Ron Gray, left, and state Sen. Gerald Hocker on behalf of the Delaware State Legislature.Once, a Missouri man walked into South Bethany Town Hall, utterly lost. He had driven around for two hours, looking for the ocean. The staff were politely baffled. Finally, they asked if he had driven over the Indian River Inlet Bridge.

“Yes,” he said.

“Well, that was the ocean,” Town Clerk Dee Burbage replied.

For 33 years, Burbage has been the welcoming face at South Bethany Town Hall. On April 4, Deloris “Dee” Burbage retired from her position as town clerk.

Regardless of silly questions and sometimes cranky residents, Burbage has served the public for the past 33 years.

“You just learn to laugh with them or say, ‘OK — let me figure that out,’” Burbage said. “For the most part, people are nice.”

Bethany Beach Nature Center to celebrate Earth Day this Saturday

While “every day is Earth Day” at the Bethany Beach Nature Center, Saturday, April 15, will be an extra-special day at the former Addy Cottage.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the center will host an early Earth Day celebration that director Nancy Lucy said will bring together entertainment and education in a way that is sure to please all its visitors.

Bunny Palooza! races, chili cook-off to raise funds for QRCF

Coastal Point • Submitted : The crew from Smitty McGee’s at last year’s Bunny Palooza!Coastal Point • Submitted : The crew from Smitty McGee’s at last year’s Bunny Palooza!The person who can hop (or run or walk) to the finish line faster than all the other bunnies at the Bunny Palooza 10K/5K, will go home with an award, and even those who aren’t the speediest rabbit at the Saturday, April 15, event will be able to hunt up some fun and funds for a local cause.

Bunny Palooza is now in its fifth year as a community event and fundraiser for the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation’s scholarship fund and grant programs.

“We were just looking for something new,” said QRCF President Brigit Taylor, following years of running golf tournaments to raise funds for the organization.

“Running and walking and community events seemed to be the trend,” Taylor said. So, the 10K run and 6K run/walk were chosen as the QRCF’s new fundraiser. Next, the QRCF set about finding a time for its new event that wouldn’t conflict with other community events.

‘Let the journey begin’

Arlett, Martin ready to ship off to Naval Academy after making IR history

Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: Indian River High Schools seniors George Martin, left, and Jared Arlett, announced their official appointments to the United States Naval Academy at IR on Thursday.Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: Indian River High Schools seniors George Martin, left, and Jared Arlett, announced their official appointments to the United States Naval Academy at IR on Thursday.After moving to Delaware from Severna Park, Md., in the sixth grade, George Martin walked into Mrs. O’Shields’ sixth-grade science class on his first day at Selbyville Middle School, not knowing anyone, and sat down next to a young baseball-player-turned-wrestler by the name of Jared Arlett.

Little did either Martin or Arlett know then that their first conversation that day would end up being first of many more just like it, and one that would end up foreshadowing both of their hopeful futures.

“We were talking, and I asked him where he was from. At the time, I had no idea where Severna Park was,” Arlett recalled with a laugh. “He told me it was right outside of Annapolis, and I said, ‘Oh, that’s right by the Naval Academy. I think I kind of want to go there.’”

“Yeah. I think I kind of want to go there, too,” is how Martin had answered.

Music lessons offered to expand homeschool learning

Homeschooling gives families the freedom to better control their kids’ education. But they can lack some musical experiences, such as chorus and band lessons. So, starting this fall, longtime high school music teacher Mark Marvel will offer private daytime music lessons to individual students.

Hall draws outside the lines as Showell Teacher of the Year

Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: Phillip C. Showell Elementary School art teacher Laurie Hall recently received recognition as the school’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: Phillip C. Showell Elementary School art teacher Laurie Hall recently received recognition as the school’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.Phillip C. Showell Elementary School art teacher Laurie Hall didn’t always want to teach art.

“I went through a medical-thriller book phase” as a teen, she said. “I wanted to be an epidemiologist.”

She also had a fondness for art. however, and “I always loved my elementary school art teachers. I always used to play school, too.”

And in her junior year in high school, Hall said, “something just clicked.” She majored in elementary education at Frostburg State University and followed that with a master’s degree at George Mason University in “initiatives in educational transformations,” which involved work on bringing visiting artists to schools on Delmarva.

Hall is the 2017 Teacher of the Year for Phillip Showell. She has been at the Selbyville elementary school for five years. During that time, she spent two years without a classroom of her own, pushing her “art cart” from room to room throughout the day.

“It was actually a really good thing for me. It made me be really organized!” she said. Now, however, Hall has her own room, the walls of which are brimming with recent student work.

She is also certified as a special-education teacher and spends part of each week “pushing in” to special-education classrooms. While her work as the school’s art teacher allows her to work with every student in the school each week, she said she also enjoys her special-education classwork, in which she works one-on-one with students or with small groups.

Disciples to tell their tale in ‘Living Last Supper’

Art and religion come to life in the “Living Last Supper,” the story of Jesus Christ’s disciples, which will be presented April 12 and 13 by Millville United Methodist Church.

The one-hour performance begins with Jesus revealing that one of his disciples will betray him. The men are startled into the pose of Leonardo da Vinci’s 1498 painting “The Last Supper.”

Applications being accepted for IRSD budget oversight committee

Wanted: People who know numbers.

As promised, Indian River School District is seeking in-depth public input on district finances. The IRSD is now accepting applications for the new Citizens Budget Oversight Committee.

Volunteers will be specially trained to understand, review and contribute to regular discussions on IRSD budgets.

IRSD approves energy audit for all schools

With a goal of conserving energy, the Indian River School District will invest in an energy audit with Trane USA Inc. through the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility.

The audit will include every district school and cost a minimum of $71,500.

Frankford looks to lease town hall building to non-profit

Proposed sweets shop competing for space

The Town of Frankford is looking for more ways to use a piece of property adjacent to the town park that it recently purchased.

The parcel was purchased primarily to provide overflow parking for those going to the park; however, Councilman Marty Presley said at the town council’s April 3 meeting that there would be space leftover on the nearly 2-acre property.

Program that rescued Selbyville’s water on chopping block

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: U.S. Sen. Tom Carper discussed the proposed elimination of all USDA water and wastewater loan and grant programs, and said he didn’t ‘think this new drinking water plant (in Selbyville) could be built’ without them.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: U.S. Sen. Tom Carper discussed the proposed elimination of all USDA water and wastewater loan and grant programs, and said he didn’t ‘think this new drinking water plant (in Selbyville) could be built’ without them.Last summer, the town of Selbyville saw a potential crisis on the horizon. Money was running low during construction of a new water-treatment facility. If they failed to complete the project, the small town would have to repay a $2.7 million state grant, and Selbyville residents would still be drinking gasoline additives in the water while staring at a half-finished water facility.

A $500,000 USDA Rural Development grant saved the day and pushed the project forward toward its completion date of late May.

But President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal would eliminate all USDA water and wastewater loan and grant programs, worth $498 million. As part of his proposed 21 percent cut from USDA’s overall budget, Trump suggested shaving 2.8 percent by eliminating the $498 million program that has helped Selbyville on multiple occasions.

That’s alarming to leaders at all levels of Delaware government.

The USDA helps rural communities build, expand or modernize water and wastewater facilities for populations of 10,000 or fewer. Delaware has benefitted from about 44 projects, worth $131.2 million dollars, including $70 million in Sussex County, said Kathy Beisner, acting state director for USDA Rural Development in Maryland and Delaware.

Several million dollars have been granted to Selbyville projects, and the Town is hoping for more in the near future.

OVPD’s Ballentine recognized for DUI enforcement

The Delaware Office of Highway Safety recently recognized law-enforcement officers from across the state for their DUI enforcement efforts.

Fenwick talks insurance savings, beach rules, Earth Day

The Town of Fenwick Island will save some money by switching to public program of worker compensation. The Town expects to save at least $10,000 by leaving its current $75,000 workers-comp plan for the DeLea Founders Insurance Trust (DFIT), a consortium of 24 municipalities that partner to purchase insurance.

Former inmates to speak at SDARJ panel on Tuesday, April 11

The community can get a first-hand account of what life is like inside prison on Tuesday, April 11, as the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice (SDARJ) will host a former-inmate panel at the Trinity Faith Christian Center in Lewes, beginning at 7 p.m.

SMS Robotics Team wins at states, headed to world competition

Coastal Point photo • Submitted : The winning teams and their teachers include, from left, Kaitlyn Johnson, teacher Tommie Morrison, Evan Carpenter, Kendall Coleman, Ann Weaver, Kevin Reid, Chris Sichina and teacher Jon Casto.Coastal Point photo • Submitted : The winning teams and their teachers include, from left, Kaitlyn Johnson, teacher Tommie Morrison, Evan Carpenter, Kendall Coleman, Ann Weaver, Kevin Reid, Chris Sichina and teacher Jon Casto.In an all-day event on Saturday, Feb. 11, the Selbyville Middle School Robotics Team competed at the Delaware state championship in the VEX Robotics Competition.

Presented by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, the VEX Robotics Competition is the largest and fastest-growing middle school and high school robotics program, involving more than 16,000 teams from 40 countries playing in more than 1,350 competitions worldwide.

Each year, an engineering challenge is presented in the form of a game. Students, with guidance from their teachers and mentors, build innovative robots and compete year-round in a variety of matches.

In this year’s event, three teams represented Selbyville Middle School. The team of Kendall Coleman, Kaitlyn Johnson and Evan Carpenter received the Excellence Award, qualifying them to go to VEX World Competition in Louisville, Ky., over spring break. The team of Ann Weaver, Kevin Reid and Oriana Peterson were First Place Tournament Champions, while the team of Chris Sichina, Slone Hoban and Fritz Winkler placed sixth.

Birdsong looks to preserve local waters, habitat

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Dave Rickards is working to preserve the environment via Birdsong Gardens, a 20-acre working farm.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Dave Rickards is working to preserve the environment via Birdsong Gardens, a 20-acre working farm.Tucked away near Frankford is a non-profit environmental research facility dedicated to restoring “the former grandeur of the Delaware Estuary.”

Birdsong Gardens sits on a 20-acre working farm, which still grows grain, corn and soybeans in cooperation with a larger neighbor farmer. However, the main focus of its owner, Dave Rickards, is to preserve the environment for generations to come.

“I’m just trying to do my part,” said Rickards. “Growing up on a farm, the environment was never that far away from my thoughts. I grew up in this area. My father was a farmer, and over the years I have watched the change in technology eliminate the buffers that used to be. When I was growing up, there was a lot of quail and you could go quail hunting... I don’t even hear quail anymore, because they’ve lost their habitat.”

Rickards first became active in environmental issues in 1999, when he became involved with the Inland Bays advisory group.

It’s official: Steele permanently at the helm of IRSD

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Mark Steele is now the full-time superintendent of the Indian River School District.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Mark Steele is now the full-time superintendent of the Indian River School District.It was a unanimous vote this week as Mark Steele was officially hired as the superintendent of the Indian River School District.

At their March 27 meeting, the IRSD Board of Education promoted former assistant superintendent Steele from interim superintendent, effective immediately, with a two-year contract beginning July 1.

A lifelong Dagsboro resident and 36-year educator, Steel said, “It feels good to know that people support you and people trust you. It feels really good.”

Now that the IRSD officially has a new leader, it removes a level of uncertainty, and the administration can stride forward with a better sense of direction.

“This gives me a chance to look at the long-term things we need,” said Steele, who suggested creating a long-term district plan and a community financial review group.

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