Ground was officially broken for the Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek on Thursday, Dec. 1.
For those of you unaware of just how significant this project really is, consider that Delaware First Lady Carla Markell serves as chair of the Delaware Botanic Gardens (DBG) Advisory Board. The DBG has already raised $500,000 for the project, and the Longwood Foundation has donated another $750,000. Famed Dutch designer Piet Oudolf will create a native meadowland on the 37-acre site, and it will include a visitor center, pavilion, outdoor classrooms, demonstration gardens, eco-friendly parking, a wedding and special-event site and more.
This is a big deal.
“I think [the Longwood] grant really inspired everybody and put this cause on the map,” said Markell. “This [public/private partnership] is what Delaware is all about.”
The plan is to open in 2019 with the first round of plantings and structures, and the DBG has a 99-year lease on the land from Sussex County Land Trust, at a cost of $1 annually. So, yes, this project is very real, and getting ready to take form.
We are excited for the DBG — not only as a source of recreation and education for the community, but also as yet another shining example of how a community with a dream can create a reality through hard work and dedication.
Congratulations to all at DBG. Your hard work is paying off.
It was 75 years ago on Dec. 7 when 353 aircraft flying under the flag of Imperial Japan launched an attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
The reason for the attack, reportedly, was so the Japanese could prevent American ships from interfering in a series of assaults Japan was planning in Southeast Asia against territories controlled by the United States, United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Indeed, Japan did attack Guam, the Philippines, Wake Island, Saigon and other locations within hours of the Pearl Harbor assault.
Eight U.S. battleships were damaged, as were cruisers, destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship and a minelayer. There were 2,403 Americans killed that day and more than 1,000 injured. It jump-started the United States into entering World War II, which saw more than 400,000 Americans die in action, a figure second only to the Civil War in terms of American wartime mortality.
It was, in short, a major chapter in the history of our country. In fact, it quickly developed into a major event in the modern world’s history, as we don’t know what the landscape of the globe would have looked like had the U.S. not been pushed into the fray at that exact time.
Would we have been delayed in entering the war until it was too late to curb the momentum built up by the so-called “Axis Powers?” Would we have come in after a significant battle that could have turned the entire war the other direction? Would we be teaching our children German today, and would the Jewish faith be only a chapter in history textbooks? Would things have gone exactly as they did?
We just don’t know with any certainty. If one subscribes to the theory of “the butterfly effect,” every action taken impacts a million other things in return. You could put that “butterfly effect” theory into the impact the attack had on the collective American psyche, as well. Young men got angry and signed up to face the axis powers. Some lied about their ages so they could get over there sooner. Women and children donated their time and energy to get behind the war effort, and many people who were unable to go overseas and fight signed on with the USO or Red Cross.
All that stuff matters.
For sure, the attack on Pearl Harbor was “a date which will live in infamy,” as noted at the time by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was an impetus in our entering World War II when we did, it froze our nation in time as Americans tried to wrap their heads around what was happening and it still, 75 years later, evokes emotional responses in all who understand what happened that day.
When I was younger, it was one of those conversations you would hear older people having: “Where were you when you heard about Pearl Harbor?” Everyone had their own, unique story, because everyone felt it uniquely unto themselves. The same went for the assasination of then-President John. F. Kennedy, and the moon-landing.
Those were moments when people knew immediately there was historical significance to what was happening, and felt a direct, emotional response within them. I started thinking of events throughout my lifetime that had an impact like those, and there were only a few:
• Maybe it is just because I am a giant sports fan, but the U.S. winning the gold medal in hockey in the 1980 Winter Olympics will also remain in my mind as fresh material. More than the gold-medal game, it was the shocking semifinal victory over the U.S.S.R. that completely blew my mind. There was the tension of Cold War hostilities between the nations, the fact that the Americans were a team of amateur college players going against maybe the greatest professional hockey team the world has seen and the excitement of Al Michael’s memorable call of, “Do you believe in miracles” as the clock ran down on the game.
Whatever caused it, I will forever remember sitting on the floor of my home watching that moment.
• The Space Shuttle “Challenger” exploding in January 1986 will forever be ingrained in my head. NASA was still a really cool thing in 1986, and each launch was met with fanfare, especially with the newer Space Shuttles being used. It was late morning, and I was sitting in a social studies class when word began filtering throughout the school. I remember a girl sitting behind me in class, crying audibly, and there was a sense of rush in all of us to get home and tune in the television to find out what was happening. It was a dark day.
• Sept. 11, 2001. The darkest day in this nation in my lifetime. There was confusion, fear, hysteria and sadness. We weren’t sure if another attack was forthcoming, as we all glued ourselves to televisions, newspapers and magazines for the days and weeks that followed. There was a mixture of anger at what had happened to us, and a knowing fear that we would soon be sending young men and women to another part of the world for both retribution over what happened, and a hope that they would be able to put a stop to any further incidents on our soil.
As much as I’ll never forget the horrible atrocities that took place as they were happening for the world to see, I will also always remember those images of people wandering the streets of New York, hanging pictures of their loved ones on message boards and telephone poles with the hope that they would be found alive.
Remember Pearl Harbor, even if you were too young or not born when it happened. It’s story should never fade away.
Letters to the Editor
Reader: We are all responsible to kids
I feel compelled once again to speak to an issue that this school district is wrestling with and that is the recent referendum on education.
I have heard people complain about the district’s financial woes — the lack of oversight and transparency and the insufficient vetting of administrators. In my opinion, such issues may be troublesome but not insurmountable. What cannot wait, however, is the right of every child, no matter their origin, to be the recipient of the American promise of the best possible free public education available.
Our parents and grandparents paid to educate my generation — the Baby Boomers. It is time for us now to perpetuate this uniquely American cycle and open our hearts to the same children who we hope will bring education and compassion to us, as they will one day be our caretakers.
It is easy to make excuses, but to me this is inexcusable — to deny children who cannot advocate for themselves the investment that they are worthy of is a tragic irony. My two sons graduated from the Indian River School District, were accepted into their first-choice colleges and have returned to live and work in this same district. Isn’t this what we all want for our sons and daughters?
So, come on, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and good people everywhere. When the referendum comes up again, bring your better angels to the polls.
I will end with my favorite quote from Thomas S. Monson, “No concern of ours is too small or insignificant. The Lord is in the details of our lives.”
Elling: ‘Time to drain the swamp’ in IRSD
We of the Indian River School District have quite a mess, legally, financially and ethically. The report by the State of Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts, led by R. Thomas Wagner Jr., strongly identifies that we taxpayers of the IRSD have an overwhelming failure of the IRSD Board of Education members and the administration of the school district.
How close are the offices of Superintendent Susan S. Bunting and Assistant Superintendent Mark L. Steele to the departed chief financial officer? Twenty steps and no stairs? How long has Charles M. Bierley been a member of the Board of Education and president of the board? Longer than anyone else in the entire U.S.A. President Charles M. Bireley is an accountant by profession, and his name is on the private financial office located in Ocean View.
How is it possible for the IRSD financial organization and controls to become such a disgrace with all the skills and knowledge of the total membership of the Board of Education? Why were they not able to question and personally identify nepotism in hiring and establish policies for the financial office?
This is exhausting and extremely embarrassing. Our students, parents, taxpayers and educators do not deserve this mess of corruption and failures to supervise and oversee.
The sizeable IRSD monies ($52,843) donated illegally via the IRSD financial officer to other service organizations must be recovered. Shared corruption will be expensive for the IRVFC, the Boys & Girls Club and the Indian River School District.
Is there a solution in the failures of leadership by the IRSD administration and Board of Education? The IRSD is a large school district in student numbers and area. I believe strongly that the Indian River School District be split into two school districts in order to better oversee the equal education of all our children.
The present Board of Education has 10 elected members. The division of the school district could then have 10 elected Board members within each separate school district. Yes, this will create duplicate administrative staff and additional expense in administration staffing. Ideally, it will give each district a much closer relationship/oversight among board members, administrators, educators, students, parents and property tax payers.
It is well past the time to dismantle the present failures to supervise, financial theft, racism, nepotism and more in order to establish truly honest and vibrant educational opportunities for all our district’s children, young adults, educators, administrators and service providers.
The division of boundary lines can be accomplished by using the service area of our two high schools. Referendums could be presented by each school district in the spring or fall of 2018 if reorganization can progress swiftly. We must live with the crowded classrooms until we, the citizens, can change our school districts into properly manageable organizations. This process is going to be challenging, but we have limited choices.
Lloyd E. Elling
Editor’s note: Investigation is ongoing into allegations of illegal activity through the transactions referenced in the IRSD audit report by the State of Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts. No criminal charges have been filed as of Coastal Point press time.
Reader wants Medicare protected
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan; Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman, Ways & Means Committee; and Rep. Tom Price, chairman, Budget Committee, who is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health & Human Services, are among Republican leaders in the U.S. House who support legislation to privatize Medicare by converting it to a “premium support” system. I urge your newspaper to editorialize against their efforts to change Medicare to a “voucher” plan that will raise the cost of health care for seniors.
Just because the Republican Party has majorities in the House and Senate and the president-elect, it is not a mandate to destroy Medicare with a “voucher” plan to pay outright subsidies to insurance companies who make big contributions to many members of Congress.
In April 2011, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives passed in a 2012 budget blueprint a proposal to replace traditional Medicare with vouchers. This ignited a firestorm of opposition from Congressional Democrats, America’s seniors and the general public.
Back then, an analysis of the proposal by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that turning Medicare over to private insurance plans would result in seniors paying twice as much for their care, would raise administrative costs and would not keep medical inflation as low as traditional Medicare has done.
It is astonishing that after the bashing delivered to Republicans on the “voucher” proposal in 2011 that they would be reviving it again.