Frankford trying to iron out water coverage, speeders

The residents of the Delaware Avenue Association are still hoping to connect to the Town of Frankford’s water system.

At the town council’s monthly meeting on Dec. 7, Wesley Hayes Jr. of the Delaware Avenue Association asked the council if they had followed up with anyone following their October meeting, which was attended by Hayes, along with other Delaware Avenue residents and representatives from Sussex County, as well as Delaware Rural Water Association.

“We’re going to have to take a look at the overall financing. Can we incorporate this within the water tower? If there are grants out there, how much money are we going to be able to afford before taking out bonds. All those questions need to be formulated first,” said Councilman Marty Presley.

“I understand the Town is in turmoil, but at the same time, something still has to happen,” said Hayes.

Council President Elizabeth Carpenter said she was working about 60 hours a week on Town-related business and invited Hayes to volunteer at town hall to work on moving the process forward.

“I am willing to help you. I don’t have the knowledge or the time. I don’t have time. I need more people in town hall helping.”

Hayes urged the Town to make a move regarding potential grant funding that he said could be tied in to fixing the Town’s water tower.

“If you wait on this, you might miss out because of the fiscal timing.”

Hayes said that Delaware Rural Water Association could potentially grant the Town $100,000, with 75 percent of the entire project paid for through a USDA grant.

Presley said the Town needs to see what is most effective for the Town before it makes any cost-spending decision.

Tidewater Utilities District Manager Clarence Quillen spoke to those in attendance about the company taking over the Town’s water in December.

“Our objective is to get [clean, clear water] to every customer out in the Town.”

Quillen said Tidewater was able to figure out why residents were at times having rust-colored water, due to an intermittent problem with the variable frequency drive pumps.

Since Tidewater took over the Town’s water, Quillen said, the Town had only had one dirty-water complaint.

“I know that’s only been a week, but that’s still good,” he said, encouraging residents to contact town hall if they experience issues with their water.

Quillen said that Tidewater served the Town for two years, but for the last two years the Town was served by Artesian.

“We can speak for most of the town residents, and we’re very, very happy that you’re back,” Presley said.

“My objective is to provide adequate drinking water to everyone in town,” added Quillen.

Police chief recommends radar trailer to tackle speeding

Frankford Police Chief Mike Warchol said of his department’s ongoing efforts to mitigate speeding within the town, he would recommend the Town look into purchasing equipment to survey traffic within the town.

“The first thing we need to do before we can mitigate it is we need determine what areas in town are our hotspots. In doing that, we need to do traffic surveys.”

As a one-man department, with an additional part-time officer, he said it would be difficult for him to conduct the surveys himself.

Warchol discussed two different options for digital speed cameras that would have internal software that would be able to provide the Town with data related to vehicle speeds.

One of the two options discussed was a black box that can be placed on a telephone pole, that is radar-equipped with a computer. The equipment will measure speeds of the vehicles, collect the data and give a printed report of the speeds.

“It tells you the times of day on that roadway where it would be more profitable for you to be running radar or doing speed enforcement. It’ a good system; South Bethany currently uses it,” he added, noting the South Bethany department also has more officers than Frankford.

Warchol said the downside to the device is that “there’s no real preventer.”

“It’s basically a covert machine that sits there, and you just get what your normal daily traffic is.”

Warchol said he would instead recommend the Town consider a radar trailer over the radar box, because “the people that are mistakenly speeding — you’re going to slow them down.

The chronic speeders that need the tickets, they’re the ones we’re going to be catching with this.”

If the Town purchased a speed trailer, Warchol said, they would place it on roads with the most speed complaints, Frankford Avenue, Delaware Avenue, Thatcher Street and Clayton Street, and do traffic surveys on each of those roads for one week.

“That way, when it comes back and gives us the printout, it will give us which days we have more speeders and which days we don’t. That’ll help me schedule myself, and the part-time officer, or the full-timer when he gets back, to make sure we’re here during those times to be doing speed enforcement.”

He noted that a similar survey would have to be done in the summertime, as well, given the change in traffic during the summer season.

Warchol said his department could pay for the devices through a supplement to a County grant. He noted both devices were comparable in price, at around $4,000.

Presley said that he would like to see how the Town’s audit report comes back before the Town expends any money.

As the item was not on the posted agenda, it will be placed on the council’s January agenda for consideration with a possible vote.

In other Town news:

• Representatives of the Town met with representatives of the Town of Berlin, Md., on Nov. 13 to see how that town operates.

“I would like to put out a thank-you to them for hosting us,” said Carpenter. “They were more than gracious with their time and their knowledge, are completely willing to stand side by side with us in helping us grow and move forward.”

Carpenter said the visit was “amazing,” and the Town is grateful for Berlin’s hospitality.

• Following an executive session, the council voted 3-1, with Carpenter opposed, to approve a $250 Christmas bonus to the Town’s employees.

Earlier in the evening, property owner Kathy Murray questioned the council giving bonuses.

“First of all, we don’t have an approved budget. The Town still does not have an approved budget. You don’t have the results of the forensic audit. One of the issues that I have been vocal about in the past is the annual increases for employees, is that they’re subjective. There is no formal annual performance review. It’s just, my understanding, it’s based on an opinion that they think someone has done a good job and everyone gets an increase. I take issue with that…

“What is the criteria that you’re going to discuss for issuing a Christmas bonus? Is it arbitrary? Is it just based on the fact that you’ve always done that? That’s part of the reason we’re in the shape we’re in. Because people did not make good financial business decisions.”

Carpenter said, in her opinion, the Town was in no shape to be handing out bonuses.

“I’m not prepared, at this time tonight, to just arbitrarily hand out Christmas bonuses.”

“Hell, they don’t give no big-ass Christmas bonuses, I’ll tell you that right now,” said town maintenance worker Dave Ward.

Presley said the Christmas bonuses are not part of the performance review of the employee, which is done during their annual evaluation. He said the Christmas bonuses are given as a gift.

Resident Dayna Aliberti said she agreed with Presley.

“Christmas bonuses are an added bonus that you give to somebody to promote keeping your employees happy. We’re a small community — we don’t have that many employees. If you go upsetting all of them, we’re not going to have anyone in Town.”

• The council also voted 4-0 to expend $5,600 for a security system to potentially be used in the Town’s water plant, park or other Town facilities.

• Murray asked that the town manager committee be resurrected in January. Murray said she believes it should be separate from the charter committee. The council agreed.