Local News

Beach towns say they feel targeted by proposed rental tax

Anyone who owns a vacation rental property in Delaware might be facing a new occupancy tax. The Delaware State Legislature is considering a new 8 percent tax on short-term vacation rental units.

Community warned to be wary of phone scams

Local law-enforcement officials this week reminded residents to stay wary, as the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office has been informed of numerous fictitious calls being made in the county, supposedly on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, and several other phone scams have been reported in the area recently.

PNC closing downtown Selbyville branch

Corner bank has existed since 1903

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant : The PNC Bank branch in Selbyville will close June 16.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant : The PNC Bank branch in Selbyville will close June 16.Selbyville is losing one of its two banks this spring. The PNC Bank at the corner of Church Street and Main Street will permanently close its doors at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 16.

The ATM will remain on-site at 1 West Church Street immediately after the office closes, although there is no timeframe for that availability. It’s a higher-functioning ATM that can process deposits.

Why is the bank closing? Basically, PNC representatives said, people use machines more for banking, and PNC doesn’t need a two-story office building on Church Street anymore.

“Over the last several years, we have been going over an evaluation of our overall branch network,” said PNC spokesperson Marcey Zwiebel. “We’ve also just been looking at data that says the way customers use branches is changing. They’re increasingly using the convenient and alternative channels” — online, mobile or ATM banking — “for many of the basic transactions that they used to use the branch for… We’ve been taking a look at how we can support our customers when and how and where they want.”

Richardson wins IRSD Teacher of the Year award

A love of reading at core of specialist’s work to help students

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: The 2017-2018 Indian River School District Teachers of the Year pose in the Indian River High School auditorium.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: The 2017-2018 Indian River School District Teachers of the Year pose in the Indian River High School auditorium.“I love to read,” said Lisa Richardson, reading intervention specialist at Millsboro Middle School.

Richardson is the 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year for the Indian River School District. Her win was announced at a dinner on Wednesday, April 29.

Not only does Richardson treasure the worlds that can open through books, but she also has a keen understand of the impact the ability to read has on everyday life.

Richardson’ students come to her needing help meeting reading requirements. The main challenge of her job, she said, is “helping them catch up so they can be successful in their core classes.” If a students is struggling to read, she said, everything else in school becomes a struggle as well.

Wag, Wine and Whiskers fundraiser to feature famous puppy pair

Rescued bulldog puppies Oslo and Ivar will appear at a fundraiser May 6 to support Grass Roots Rescue, which rescued the dogs from a breeder who was selling them at a reduced price due to deformities in their legs. The pair have since had surgeries to correct the genetic condition, at a cost of $4,000 each, and are now recovering. They and fellow rescue animals looking for forever homes will appear at the Rehoboth fundraiser this weekend.Rescued bulldog puppies Oslo and Ivar will appear at a fundraiser May 6 to support Grass Roots Rescue, which rescued the dogs from a breeder who was selling them at a reduced price due to deformities in their legs. The pair have since had surgeries to correct the genetic condition, at a cost of $4,000 each, and are now recovering. They and fellow rescue animals looking for forever homes will appear at the Rehoboth fundraiser this weekend. (Photo courtesy Grass Roots Rescue)Ivar and Oslo may not be as famous as April the giraffe, but they’re already making their presence known on social media, and they’ll be the stars at a local animal-centered fundraising event on Saturday, May 6, in Rehoboth Beach.

The two rescued bulldogs have taken local social media by storm in recent weeks, due to their rescue by the Grass Roots Rescue organization after they were born with skeletal issues that required major surgery. Their back legs are splayed due to a condition known as “swimmer’s syndrome,” but once the dogs were in the group’s hands, the condition of their front legs was actually more concerning.

Their front legs were at 90-degree angles, a congenital defect that their veterinarian termed “severe subluxation of their elbows,” Grass Roots Rescue co-founder Karli Swope said.

“We found out about them when several people on my friends list tagged me in the post where they were being sold by the breeders’ daughter for ‘$800 [or best offer].’ I messaged her and offered her $500 for the pair, and she agreed,” said Swope.

The group received the dogs on March 7, and four days later “their slew of vet appointments began,” Swope said.

After trying to find local veterinarians to do the surgery the two pups required, they ended up at Veterinary Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Group in Annapolis, Md., where they underwent surgery in early April. The two surgeries cost about $8,000, which the rescue covered and is trying to raise funds to replenish so that their ongoing medical costs and those of the group’s other rescues can be paid.

Beach & Bay Cottage Tour Sneak Peek No. 1

Coastal Point • Submitted : Expansive ocean-to-bay views await visitors to this home, which will be featured as part of the 26th Annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour, to benefit the South Coastal Library in Bethany Beach.Coastal Point • Submitted : Expansive ocean-to-bay views await visitors to this home, which will be featured as part of the 26th Annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour, to benefit the South Coastal Library in Bethany Beach.

North Bethany oceanfront home offers expansive water views

(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of previews of the homes that will be on display during the 26th Annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour, to be held July 26-27 from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.)

After vacationing in North Bethany for more than 20 years, the need for more space for their growing multi-generational family led its eventual owners to this 6,000-square-foot oceanfront home.

Under the guidance of a local architect, the owners were able to transform the exterior face with wall-to-wall windows to bring the seaside in from all angles and bathe the soaring spaces in natural light from the towering three-story glass entry stairwell.

The first-floor quarters offer a central lounge fronted by a pair of identical oceanfront master suites and flanked by four additional guest bedrooms with connecting baths.

Native Plant Sale to help with ‘Planting for Pollinators’ on Saturday

Anyone who wants to learn how to attract birds and bees and butterflies to their garden and then take home some plants that can help will find all that and more at the Center for the Inland Bays’ Native Plant Sale at the James Farm Ecological Preserve from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 6.

‘Life by the slice’

Fresh ingredients, same recipe for owners of Pomodoro Pizzeria in Bethany Beach

Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert Rose and Brian Conte hold up a white spinach with ricotta, fresh garlic and olive oil pizza in their new pizzeria in Bethany Beach.It was an offer that they couldn’t refuse.

After purchasing a home in Millville By the Sea six years ago, the search had been on for the Naples, Italy-born couple turned lifetime restauranteurs in all things Italian cuisine, Rose and Brian Conte.

After the success of Café Palermo — the Wilmington-based establishment that they had owned and operated together for 13 years — the Contes had been searching for the right location to introduce the cuisine of their home country to what they were hoping to make their new home, in Bethany Beach.

But after trying to find that perfect location for more than five years, it finally found them instead, on a boardwalk day last spring.

“We just happened to be walking around on a Sunday, and then we saw it. When we saw this spot, I said, ‘Brian — this is it.’ I knew right away,” said Rose Conte of the now official location of the Pomodoro Pizzeria, next to Dickey’s Frozen Custard just off the Bethany Beach boardwalk.

ACTS supports Camp Barnes community

Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Cpl./3 Shawn Hatfield of the Delaware State Police poses for a photo with the ladies at ACTS, after ACTS donated $20,000 to Camp Barnes.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Cpl./3 Shawn Hatfield of the Delaware State Police poses for a photo with the ladies at ACTS, after ACTS donated $20,000 to Camp Barnes.The Atlantic Community Thrift Shop (ACTS) has supported the community throughout its nearly 30 years of existence. Last week was no exception, when the non-profit organization gave $20,000 to Camp Barnes.

“It’s going to benefit us greatly,” said Cpl./3 Shawn Hatfield of the Delaware State Police. “We’re constantly trying to renovate the camp, because it was built in 1947. All of our funds are either donations from the general public or fundraisers that we have.

“We do get a grant-in-aid from the State of Delaware. We had to do some repairs to our pool this year and other various repairs throughout the camp that are just everyday things. This will go far in that.”

In 1948, 40 campers attended Camp Barnes — today, more than 1,000 kids attend, free of charge. The camp was named for Col. Herbert A. Barnes, who was the superintendent of the Delaware State Police at the time of its inception and is considered to have played a “pivotal role” in establishing Camp Barnes.

Murray stepping away from IRHS for family

After four years, Bennett Murray has announced that he will leave the position of Indian River High School principal.

Starting this autumn, he’ll be assigned as an assistant principal in the district, spending half his time at Georgetown Elementary School and half at the Howard T. Ennis School.

IRSD unions to vote on new contracts

When the Indian River School District went to referendum in March, administrators said one potential way to save money was to renegotiate staff contracts.

More recently, within the Indian River Education Association, the teachers and the secretaries have given the go-ahead to renegotiate contracts, potentially spreading next year’s planned pay raise over the next few years instead.

Peck joins Ocean View as finance director

Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Sandra Peck is the new finance director for the Town of Ocean View.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Sandra Peck is the new finance director for the Town of Ocean View.There’s a new face in Ocean View town hall, with Sandra Peck having joined the Town staff as finance director.

Peck took the position as of Jan. 9, after the retirement of former finance director Lee Brubaker, and immediately took off running, working on the Town’s budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which was adopted earlier this month.

Peck has an accounting degree from Penn State University and is a licensed CPA in Delaware and Pennsylvania. Additionally, she has her senior human resources certification through two organizations.
Although she grew up in Pennsylvania, Peck and her husband, Chuck, separately, spent their childhoods visiting Delaware.

“My great aunt and uncle lived in Millsboro, right along the river, so we used to come down as kids. My husband grew up since the mid-’60s going to Sandy Cove campground, and his parents had a permanent site there after they retired.”

The Pecks have owned property in Sussex County for about 10 years and moved to their current home in Bayard about five years ago.

Before becoming a fulltime local resident in 2015, Peck was able to work for her company in Pennsylvania from her home in Sussex every other week.

Community celebrates donation of Evans-West house

Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Carolyn Brunner was the hit of the party last weekend, as she and her son, Daniel McCann donated the Evans-West house to the Ocean View Historical Society.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Carolyn Brunner was the hit of the party last weekend, as she and her son, Daniel McCann donated the Evans-West house to the Ocean View Historical Society.The weekend’s gray weather did not keep people from flocking to celebrate the Ocean View Historical Society’s latest acquisition, the Evans-West house.

The home, located on West Avenue, adjacent to John West Park, was donated to the historical society by Carolyn Brunner and her son Daniel McCann.

Barbara Slavin, president of the OVHS, is Brunner’s cousin and the granddaughter of James and Mary Evans, who built the home in 1901 on land given to them by Mary Evans’ father, George H. West.

“Jim was a surfman in Fenwick; she was a homemaker. They both were very active in the Presbyterian church, which still exists on Church Street. They had three children —Sadie, who was born in 1893, who was Carolyn’s mother; Mary, who was born in 1900; and Morris, who was my father, born in 1907,” said Slavin.

Local AAUW chapter celebrates 60 years, visit from Hall-Long

Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: From left, Coastal-Georgetown AAUW president Kathleen Thompson, Delaware AAUW president Penny Deiner, Delaware Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall Long and incoming Coastal-Georgetown AAUW president Christine Gillean pose together at the chapter's recent celebration.Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: From left, Coastal-Georgetown AAUW president Kathleen Thompson, Delaware AAUW president Penny Deiner, Delaware Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall Long and incoming Coastal-Georgetown AAUW president Christine Gillean pose together at the chapter's recent celebration.The Coastal-Georgetown Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) celebrated its 60th anniversary this month with a luncheon and a visit from a longtime AAUW member with a local connection and a new state title.

Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, a member of the Middletown AAUW chapter and a native of Dagsboro, spoke to members including many past chapter presidents, who gathered April 20 at the Kings Creek Country Club in Rehoboth Beach.

Hall-Long spoke about the fellowship between AAUW members, no matter where they meet, and recounted how she had chanced upon a Coastal-Georgetown AAUW member while the two shared a bench in a shoe store and how that conversation had led to her attendance at the 60th anniversary celebration.

The former state senator also spoke to the members about her priorities as Delaware’s second-in-command, many of which dovetail with the club’s mission of advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.

Hike down memory lane: South Bethany opens history trail

South Bethany is mapping a history trail for all to see.Coastal Point • Laura Walter:  South Bethany Historical Society President Bob McCarthy displays a historical photo of South bethany at the dedication of the Town’s new Trail of History.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: South Bethany Historical Society President Bob McCarthy displays a historical photo of South bethany at the dedication of the Town’s new Trail of History.

Residents gathered at Richard Hall Memorial Park on April 21 to unveil South Bethany’s new Trail of History.

“The fact that you’re here means South Bethany is your own very special part of the earth,” Councilwoman Sue Callaway told the crowd on Earth Day weekend.

The project was a partnership between the Community Enhancement Committee and South Bethany Historical Society.

Starting in the east, five signboards tell South Bethany’s story through the years, from the first purchase of coastal land in the 1950s and quest to incorporate as a town, into the 21st century.

It got conversation buzzing. At each stop, people found photographs of familiar faces and homes. They remembered the canals before bulkheads, docks and regulations; stories of town politics; and swimming in the canals.

“It’s great that you guys found a wonderful place for this,” said Historical Society President Bob McCarthy, who remembers old debates over sewer installation, playgrounds and roads.

“People just don’t have an appreciation of how we got here today,” Callaway said.

Ocean View holds reorganizational meeting

Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Ocean View Mayor Walter Curran is sworn is for a second term in office.Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Ocean View Mayor Walter Curran is sworn is for a second term in office.The Ocean View Town Council held a brief reorganizational meeting on Tuesday, April 25.

At that time, Mayor Walter Curran and Councilman Tom Maly were sworn in to new terms, vowing “to place the public interest above any special or personal interest, and to respect the right of future generations to share the rich, historic and natural heritage of Delaware.”

Following the swearings-in, Maly was appointed unanimously by council as mayor pro-tem.

Additionally, the council approved the meeting schedule for the next year, which includes no August meeting and tentatively scheduled monthly workshops.

With the recent resignation of Gary Meredith from the Planning & Zoning Commission, Curran recommended he be replaced by Kent Liddle, who once served on the commission but resigned to run for town council. Liddle was appointed unanimously.

The council also reappointed Don Walsh, Baptist Damiano and Steve Cobb to the Board of Elections, each for three-year terms. Richard Birkmeyer and Marilynn Sheetz were reappointed as alternate commissioners to the Board of Elections for three-year terms.

Springtime Jamboree to support River Soccer

This weekend, a gathering of local talent will grace the stage at Indian River High School for the 35th Annual Springtime Jamboree.

The Jamboree was created by local businessman and now-state Sen. Gerald Hocker Sr. as a way to raise funds for local organizations. This year, the funds raised from the two-day jamboree will go to the River Soccer Club.

DEA offers a safe way to dispose of those old medications

Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: Ocean View Police Department's Capt. Heath Hall poses at the department's drug drop-off location, provided by CVS Pharmacy.Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: Ocean View Police Department's Capt. Heath Hall poses at the department's drug drop-off location, provided by CVS Pharmacy.This Saturday, community members are being encouraged to clean out their medicine cabinets and properly dispose of medications through the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

“We’ve been participating in drug takeback since 2007, so this will be our 10th year,” said Ocean View Police Department Capt. Heath Hall. “They started it once a year but then started doing it twice a year, just because it was a very well accepted service. They saw the demand.”

This Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a dozen sites in Sussex County will be open to collect any unwanted medications that members of the public no longer wish to keep in their homes.

Along with the Ocean View Police Department, other Sussex County collection sites available to the public on Saturday include the Dagsboro Police Department, the Selbyville Police Department, the Selbyville CVS Pharmacy, Delaware State Police Troop 4, the Lewes Police Department, Delaware State Police Troop 7, as well as the Rehoboth Beach, Milford, Milton and Laural police departments and the Delaware Department of Justice’s Sussex County office.

Operation SEAs the Day to celebrate fifth anniversary

This summer, Operation SEAs the Day, a nonprofit organization created to support veteran families, will celebrate its fifth year of bringing wounded warriors and their families to Bethany Beach for a week-long beach vacation.

SB’s new town manager and clerk announced

South Bethany will welcome two new employees to Town Hall, announcing a new town manager and town clerk.

Town Manager Maureen Hartman will arrive on May 8. She’ll oversee all daily operations and report directly to town council.

Woman rescued from human trafficking in Georgetown

After a lengthy investigation in Georgetown, a 55-year-old man was arrested for an alleged prostitution operation that included human trafficking and sexual servitude of a 25-year-old woman.

Jorge Arcinieja was arrested April 6 for an alleged prostitution operation being conducted at 36 Garden Circle in the County Seat Mobile Home Park, about two miles north of downtown Georgetown.

South Bethany sees six nominees for three council seats

May 27 election will see some familiar faces

It’s a race! Six candidates have registered for the town of South Bethany’s municipal election, scheduled for May 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Three challengers and three incumbents are on the slate.

Joseph Mormando, Sharon Polansky and Timothy Saxton are running for Town Council seats currently held by Wayne Schrader, Carol Stevenson and Frank Weisgerber Jr.

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.

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