Jamboree organizer offers thanks

I would like to take this time to thank everyone involved in making the 24th Annual Springtime Jamboree the most successful ever. I hope everyone enjoyed the evening as much as I enjoyed organizing the event. There are many volunteer hours involved in making an event such as this a success and it could not be done without the cooperation of all participants.

Thanks go, first of all, to the many talented performers who give of their time to entertain us. The quality of our local performers continues to amaze the public. There are too many to name but all were to be commended on excellent performances.

The Fenwick Island Lions Club, the benefactors of this year’s proceeds, also need to be recognized and applauded for the hard work they contributed to this year’s Jamboree. The organization worked together to make the event a success.

But most of all, I would like to thank the community for coming out and supporting the 24th Annual Springtime Jamboree. It is good to know that the donations will be put back into our community through the efforts of the Fenwick Island Lions Club. I hope to continue this tradition next year for a “special” 25th Annual Springtime Jamboree and ask for the support of the community again at that time.

Gerald W. Hocker
Ocean View

Wilson will bringback IR pride

“Indian River Pride.” Remember back in the day when that slogan could be worn not only on our athletic uniforms but could be a badge of honor worn through our school buildings? Not any more. The state of the Indian River School District is in dismal condition... The district needs real and immediate change, and the best way to do that is to elect Jackie Wilson for Indian River School Board in District No.4 on May 9.

Jackie Wilson will help the district restore the pride that we so sorely need. She understands what it is like to work in a school system, so she can candidly discuss issues with employees when they talk with her. She understands educational policy, having helped draft it on the state level while working with the Delaware Department of Education. She understands what the majority of our community wants and that is the best schools in the state and the best employees to teach in our buildings and oversee our facilities and operations.

Lisa Novak

Most Blessed Sacrament issues thanks

The first annual Bella Notte fashion show fundraiser turned out to be a “beautiful night.” The fashion show and dinner was enjoyed by more than 300 people and raised $9,000 for the school.

We would like to take this time and thank Adam Osborn and Carraba’s for donating all food for this fundraiser. They went over and beyond in their generosity.

We would also like to thank the Knights of Columbus of Ocean City for doing an excellent job of serving and waiting on all of our guests, and Father Thomas Protack of St. John Neumann Catholic Church for being a fabulous celebrity model.

The night would not have been a success without the following fine businesses, donations and donors (in no specific order): Carlton’s Men’s and Ladies Apparel, Coconut Kids, Lady Fenwick, OshKosh B’Gosh, Quiet Storm Surf Shop, South Moon Under, Southern Exposure, Strasburg Children, You’re Invited, A Class Act Limo, Banks Wines & Spirits, Beyond Flowers, Black Diamond Builders Inc., Carraba’s, Donnie Berkey the best MC, Food Lion, Hockers, Holy Savior & St. Andrew’s Halls, Home Depot, Knights of Columbus, Kevin Knowles, Linens of the Week, MBSCS Ambassadors, Ocean City Convention Center, Ocean Pines Players and Mike Henderson, Phillips Restaurant, Schumacher’s Country Store, Sweet Disposition, A Perfect Face Day Spa, the Adelhardt Family, Kim Allison, Atlantic Hotel, Baja Beach house Grill, Berlin Auto Wash, Billy’s Sub Shop, BJ’s, Cottage Cafe’, the Courtesy Shop, Curves, the Engel family, Fake’n’Bake, Michele Ferry, Fun Flicks, Regina Gelinas, the Giffin family, Hallmark, Headlines, Hecht’s, Cecilia Kenne, Macky’s Bar & Grill, Anne Oglesby, the Ott family, Perfect Furnishings, Phillips Crab House, Phillips Seafood Restaurant, Nancy Rhodes/Jane Tribbitt, Jenn & K. William Scott, Selbyville Pet & Garden Center, South Moon Under, Southside Deli, Studio Assets, Wockenfuss Homemade Candies, Woodhall Wine Cellars, You’re Invited and all of our beautiful models.

Thank you for your continued support.

Tammy Knowles,
Fashion Show Committee Chair
Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic School

Federal employees must step up

During the time that I have served as the president of the Delaware Federation of NARFE Chapters, I have received phone calls and e-mails from retired federal employees stating that they would join NARFE when NARFE does something for them.

I would suggest that now is the time for them to put their money where their mouth is and sign up, as should all other federal employees and retirees.

In 2003, during the first session of the 108th Congress, the House Budget Committee proposed that the Committee on Government Reform, which has oversight of our health care and annuity benefits, should cut $38 billion over 10 years from the retirement of federal retirees. NARFE called on Congressman Tom Davis, then chairman of Committee on Government Reform and friend of NARFE, and other congressional friends requesting their assistance in this matter. They responded and the measure was turned aside.

Without NARFE, who would have spoken out against the proposal? In 2004, similar demands were made on this same committee and once again NARFE interceded and, with the help of our friends in Congress, the demands were turned aside. Without NARFE, who would have acted? Would the AARP have spoken out for us?

Without NARFE, who would have spoken out for federal retirees in 2003 after Medicare “0” was passed to assure that our prescription drug plan would not be compromised? NARFE pressed for and obtained a resolution that, at least temporarily, protected our present coverage from being adversely affected by the Medicare “0” plan. Who else will continue to monitor Congress and fight to protect our important health insurance benefits?

This is just a brief statement on what NARFE has done for all of us, but the fight isn’t over and your help is required if we are to continue to win. Make no mistake, our benefits are not sacrosanct. What the Congress has given, the Congress can take away.

Rep. Mike Castle told me, in reference to the government’s promise that, “in retirement our health insurance coverage and cost will continue as if we were still employees,” Congress can’t be held responsible for everything some recruiter might say. The current deficit guarantees that the fight is far from over. Congress will continue to look at our earned benefits as a target for budget cuts.

As I am sure you know well, our members in Congress respond to numbers of voters. That makes it essential that NARFE has as many members as possible. NARFE will fight the battle but every additional member increases our effectiveness. Now more than ever, NARFE needs you and you need NARFE, and that means NARFE needs you as a member. Don’t wait until we face another loss to step to the plate, act now.

Walt Berwick

County density measure a ‘scam’

Sussex County Council recently passed Councilman Vance Phillips’ density ordinance, which permits increased building density in the county’s designated growth areas, including Environmentally Sensitive Developing Areas (ESDA’s).

While there are a number of disturbing aspects to this ordinance, none is more so than the fact the overriding thrust of this legislation seems totally misdirected. After all, isn’t it the environmentally sensitive areas that need protection from further development? Yet this bill specifically includes them for denser development. Folks, it is like going duck hunting and pointing the gun at the hunters instead of the ducks.

The ordinance, as originally proposed, had the builders’ density fees going into a private land trust fund whose stated purpose would be to use those fees to acquire other lands for future preservation purposes. Instead, the language of the ordinance just passed reads, “It is understood that the county shall control all monies and the Sussex County Land Trust will act as a recommending body and partner at the discretion of the county council.”

I underlined “discretion” as we have all seen for ourselves how little influence other groups have had on this council when it comes down to a matter of the council’s exercising their discretion. Their past disregard of zoning recommendations from their own Planning and Zoning Commission comes readily to mind.

Unlike monies residing in a private land trust, the council is now free to decide when, where and how much of the money is to be distributed. They can change any of the conditions stated in the ordinance at any time. All it will take to do it is the same 4-1 council vote that irresponsibly continues to approve new development.

There is nothing at all in the current language that would seem to legally or legislatively commit them to buy any land for preservation. On Page 1 of the ordinance there is a reference “to encourage the preservation open space/active and passive recreation areas within Sussex County.” On Page 2 there is mention that “the developer has proffered to Sussex County for the purpose of creating open space preservation and passive recreation areas a development fee.” On Page 3, under the Synopsis paragraph, reference is made to the amendment that “encourages the use of the density fees for the acquisition of open space.”

The word “encourages” is not a legal binding term. The dictionary defines “proffer” to mean to offer or to suggest, but there is no obligation on the part of the council to use the money in a manner suggested by the developer. What is included in a synopsis is not part of the ordinance itself but is for informative purposes only, according to my understanding.

Thus, it seems none of the language in the ordinance obligates the council to use density fees to buy land for any purpose, much less land preservation. It would appear the money would go into the general fund and they would be free to use it for what ever purpose they might decide on in the future.

In reference to the alleged benefits to be derived from cluster density as proposed in this ordinance, I believe there exists a great disconnect between reality and what is being inferred by its supporters.

As has been pointed out in other articles, developers tend to shy away from designated growth areas for a couple reasons. First, land tends to cost more within these areas because they are normally located near population centers and, second, sewer hook-ups are more expensive than community septic systems. Therefore, the question is begged: where is the financial incentive for them to go with the program when they can get cheaper land to build on, where there is no density fee and they don’t have sewer hook up fees?

Some states and counties have much more stringent zoning requirements in place to preserve farm land and to protect against urban sprawl, so if developers are to build at all they are required to build in designated growth areas, often needing to tie into an existing sewer system. But because Sussex County’s existing zoning regulations are so lenient as regards development of agriculture and open-space areas, there is little incentive for them to participate in a program requiring them to pay sewer hookups and density fees.

However, there is a scenario where developers should be willing to participate in the program. That would be if they are able to build houses where they can get a premium price for their home. In this part of the world, that means a home on or near water, or at least with a view of the water. Since there is currently very little, if any, of that type land left that is zoned for development, it is easy to see why builders would line up for the opportunity to pay a premium in order to develop land hitherto unavailable for development, i.e., lands located in Environmentally Sensitive Developing Areas (ESDA’s).

In those areas, developers undoubtedly would feel they could afford to pay the density fee and still make a good profit for themselves. It is also unclear from reading the ordinance whether those areas would have county sewer or not. If not, then their cost to build would be less.

I suspect Vance Phillips and the rest of the council knew how the development community would respond to the ordinance, embracing the ESDA portion of the program while pretty much ignoring the rest. It appears Vance Phillip proposed this ordinance as a way to open up more environmentally sensitive land for development while trying to spin it as a future land-preservation program.

The misrepresentation involved becomes acutely transparent when you realize there is no meaningful commitment in the ordinance to actually buy land for preservation; that the land trust fund has been relegated to a meaningless entity; that hitherto undeveloped environmentally sensitive land can now be developed and the county paid directly by the developers for granting them permission to do so; and that the expectation that we all will benefit from yet to be purchased open spaces is most likely a fairy tale.

Yet, when the ordinance was presented to the public, Vance Phillips actually said, “In the past, the new wealth created through increased densities went into the pockets of developers as windfall profits. What we‘ve done today will transfer a significant portion of that new wealth into the public domain.”

The unvarnished truth is we have all been had, newcomer and Sussex native alike. What has taken place is Vance Phillips’ and the Sussex County Council’s version of the old sales tactic called “bait and switch,” i.e., what we were told we were getting is not what we got. Folks, Vance Phillips is up for reelection this year and, hopefully, will be replaced by someone who is committed to representing all county citizens fairly, and is someone in who we all can believe.

Phillips and most of the other council members feel free to engage in the kind of duplicity and misrepresentation evidenced by this ordinance because HB 170, which passed the House 34-4 and would grant all Sussex citizens greater representation, sits in Sen. Thurman Adams’ committee, and he refuses to let his colleagues vote on it. It is the consensus of many that it would pass and the people of Sussex could start to benefit from a more representative local government. That bill must be voted on and passed by the Senate by June 30, or it dies.

Thurman Adams is a big part of our representation problem, so let him and your state senator know you want the bill to be released for a vote this legislative session, the sooner the better.

Allen Ide

Earth Day opportunity for cell-phone recycling

The tools we use to communicate today are rapidly evolving. New wireless phones are introduced almost every day, and studies show that consumers upgrade and replace their phones about every 18 months. This Earth Day, you can make a difference in your community by recycling your old wireless phone, helping to keep the waste out of landfills and helping people in need at the same time.

Some say that it can be a challenge to find recycling resources or to find the time to sort old items. The good news is the process is quick and simple and today people have many options, other than the trash, for their old wireless phones.

One easy solution is Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine program. HopeLine collects no-longer-used wireless phones and accessories from any service provider. The wireless phones and accessories that are collected at our local Verizon Wireless Communication Stores are refurbished or recycled in an environmentally safe way, with proceeds benefiting victims of domestic violence and the local non-profit advocacy agencies that support them. Since 1995, we have collected 15,000 phones in the Philadelphia tri-state region.

Earth Day is the perfect opportunity for you to get involved and help protect the Earth’s resources. Recycling a phone may seem like a small step - but if we all take the time to recycle, we can help make a huge difference. So, on Earth Day 2006, do something good not only for the environment, but for our community, too.

Christine Baron, President, Philadelphia Tri-State Region
Verizon Wireless

Church seeks help with grass

S.O.S. from Bethany Beach Christian Church to all Bethany Beach residents and friends:
We appreciate your gift of water and we happily serve our communion wine to all we welcome. We also share one third of our real estate for your children’s playground, along with the basketball court for exercise for adults.

In keeping with U.S. Supreme Court decisions, we provide a prominent location at the corner of Garfield and Route 1, for the community Christmas manger scene and, when city celebrations do not conflict with the church’s use of our beautiful tabernacle assembly and dining building, we offer this space for community use.

As an historic summer camp site responsible for the founding of your Quiet Resort, we ask for your help with our greatest problem – grass cutting. We prefer the green in lieu of asphalt. Please help us with your suggestions, volunteer time, gifts of tax-deductible, riding lawn mowers or financial donations.

Call (302) 539-4118 or mail contributions to Bethany Beach Christian Church. PO Box 92, Bethany Beach, DE 19930.

R.M. Peters, Outreach Committee
Bethany Beach Christian Church

Bethany height limits good as is

On Friday night, April 21, 2006, at 6 p.m., a public hearing is scheduled by the Bethany Town Council to hear citizens’ comments regarding a proposed change to our existing ordinance by the Planning Commission to allow residents in the R-1 zoning district, under certain roof configuration, to have a maximum height of 35 feet.

This is an increase of 4 feet over our existing height of 31 feet, at which height most citizens complain that our new residences are too big.

Why this proposed change is restricted to the R-1 district, I don’t know — but the planning commission has on its next agenda more discussion on height allowances, maybe in R-2 residential and commercial areas.

Warren Bitzman, a great citizen of our town, wrote most of our existing ordinance covering height, setbacks and percentage of lot coverage in the early 1970s. They have remained intact for over 30 years. They have withstood many prior Town Council and Planning Commission members, who followed the old adage, “If they are not broken, don’t fix them.”

In our town survey, completed in early 2004, respondents (70.6 percent) “expressed the desire to maintain the look of the existing community — as a small scale, quiet, primarily residential beach village.” More than four-fifths (85.8 percent) agreed or strongly agreed with a public strategy of discouraging high-density residences (condos, townhouse and apartment buildings) structures.

If you cannot make the meeting, let the town know your opinion either by phone (302) 537-3771 or e-mail, www.townofbethanybeach.com.

Joseph W. McHugh, Retired Mayor
Bethany Beach