We can find that ‘Christmas spirit’ in many ways


It’s been said that each year in a person’s life is like a chapter in that individual’s biography.

Within each chapter often comes joy, sadness, anger, hope and despair. The wide-ranging emotional kaleidoscope that colors our lives is part of what makes us human — with imperfections, random acts of kindness and all. Sure, after a while the years can tend to blend together in our memories, but as they are happening around us... well, they certainly leave a mark.

It is no different when discussing a year’s impact on a community. Sure, it’s the stuff that takes place during that calendar year that makes a difference, as opposed to the physical flipping of pages to start each month, but it’s an easy way to categorize significant events into a chronological and tidy package.

Looking back on the previous 12 months, 2018 was definitely a year of impact on our beloved corner of Sussex County. Like much of the nation, we found ourselves split over the midterm elections and the overall political climate around us, but we are going to blow by much of that here, unless it was something more unique to our specific community. 

There will be other items of note you probably won’t see here, and there’s a simple reason for that, too: I sometimes make mistakes. Clobber me in emails or get over it — that’s your decision.

So, without further ado, here is a look back at our community in 2018:

• January kicks off the Coastal Point calendar each year, and coincidentally, it is also the start to the new year. This past year we saw Sussex County Council debate a right-to-work initiative by now-former Councilman Rob Arlett before deciding to not go forward with it, a pretty significant blizzard hit us in the shivering teeth, and a dispute broke out between Mountaire and some Millsboro-area residents over high nitrates in their well water. We also saw the opioid problem continue to infest our community, as there were seven heroin-related overdoses in Sussex County in a six-hour period. 

On the personal side of things, I watched some of the NFL playoffs, but had a hard time getting over the Baltimore Ravens choking away their opportunity to play in the tournament when they couldn’t beat the awful Cincinnati Bengals in their season finale, and left me...

But I digress.

• February is short on days, but was big on positive events in the area last year. The Ocean View Church of Christ hosted the Night to Shine event  — one of those annual soirees that creates a million smiles for attendees and volunteers, alike. And, not to be outdone, the Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards hosted by the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce reminded us once again how remarkably fortunate we are to have the kind of selfless first-responders that we have been blessed with to have looking out for all of us. The state insurance commission also opened an office in Georgetown, saving people hours of driving when they needed to handle a problem, and Beebe officials came to South Coastal Library to discuss their plans for an emergency room and cancer center in Millville.

Personally, I admitted to falling off the diet I began in earnest on Jan. 1. Truth be told, I fell off the diet on about Jan. 3, but that’s our secret, OK?

• March saw Ocean View officials discuss a 100-percent property-tax increase, and then later decided they could do what they needed on a 50-percent increase, instead. The Bethany Beach Christian Church organized a March For Our Lives rally in Bethany Beach, and the Freeman Stage released part of their summer schedule to much fanfare. The Lord Baltimore Lions Club jumped in to try to help with the opioid epidemic, hosting a panel discussion on drug-use disorder. 

Personally, I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day again. In an unrelated event, I was coincidentally sick again on March 18. I just can’t figure out the pattern.

• April showers bring... the Springtime Jamboree, courtesy of the Hocker family, and this year’s beneficiary was the Millville Volunteer Fire Co. The Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department also had reasons to celebrate in April, as they hosted an open house in honor of 75 years of saving people’s lives and property. The Indian River School District began discussions on new buildings and solutions to an overcrowding problem, and Arlett announced that he would be running for U.S. Senate seat long held by Tom Carper. I know I said I’d be largely avoiding talk of the elections, but when one of our county councilmen, and a local business owner, decides to run for U.S. Senate, it gets a mention.

On the personal side of things, I was reminded early on that the Orioles would not be winning a World Series title in 2018. 

• May carries special weight around our coastal towns, as Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial launch to the crazy season. In 2018, May saw beach replenishment projects take hold just as visitors were beginning to come to town, and the annual rite of parking permits and meters jumped off at about the same time. Two fatal accidents took place during Memorial Day weekend, reminding us once again that the most fun time of the year is also its most dangerous.

Personally, I realized that what passes as a “beach body” for me might be someone else’s “before” picture. 

• June is when the schools become empty and our roads become full. This past June we saw Frankford terminate another town solicitor, and the end to an era with the demolition of the Blackwater Presbyterian Church, thanks to an uninvited group of termites. Also, Ocean View’s attempt to improve their assessment system by switching to the County’s did not go as planned, riling up the Town’s critics.

On a personal level, I decided to do some sit-ups to tackle the larger version of myself, and then decided that one was more than enough as I sat quivering in my own tears and sweat. Back off, ladies. I’m spoken for.

• Nobody does the Fourth of July like we do, and this year was no exception, with parades, fireworks and general patriotic awesomeness flowing around our community. Ken Cimino, previously known as being the point man for the Route 26 project, joined the Ocean View team, becoming the Town’s Planning & Zoning director. The Lower Sussex Little League Major League softball team won the state championship, and then continued to ball out in the Mid-Atlantic Regionals, ultimately finishing third out of more than 800 teams. Frankford approved a pretty substantial water fee rate increase to help make up for some budget shortfalls, and more problems with the opioid epidemic, as two young men living in Ocean View fatally overdosed. 

Personally, we learned that my daughter loves fireworks, adding yet another noisy activity to her future repertoire.

• August is the height of “the dog days of summer,” but a little heat didn’t scare away some of the best young softball players in the world, as the Senior League Softball World Series once again took place in Roxana. The beach replenishment project came to an end, as did the lifeguarding tenure of Fenwick Island Beach Patrol Captain Tim Ferry, who stepped down from the lifeguard chair after 43 years of service. The Fenwick Island Town Council approved a height variance for the Fenwick Sands, after much discussion and argument.

In my own life, I got through another birthday and discovered that, yes, there are more things that can hurt on a human body when one wakes up each morning. So... yay.

• September obviously brings thoughts of Labor Day to our community as it is the unofficial end of the season, but it now also brings to mind Operation SEAs the Day — a remarkable effort that has generated volunteerism and donations from all corners of our coastal oasis in an effort to help give our wounded warriors and their families a terrific trip to the beach. Ocean View officials announced they will be going back to private assessments, and the Town of Millville helped get everyone into the fall spirit with the Great Pumpkin Festival. In a great example of government and private businesses working together, DNREC and Mountaire Farms teamed up to fund a $395,000 project to repair a culvert on Railroad Avenue in Selbyville.

Personally, I watched another fantasy football season fall apart for me in the first couple weeks of the season.

• October is for ghosts and goblins, and in this area, Cops & Goblins, as the Ocean View Police Department held another remarkable event. Selbyville Middle School was honored by being named a Blue Ribbon School, and Millville Town Council members approved the final site plans for Beebe’s South Coastal Campus Emergency Department and Cancer Center. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a game-changer for this area, and quite possibly the local story of the year. 

Personally, I got to watch my daughter go trick-or-treating, and felt bad for her that nobody gave her any peanut butter cups this year (They did. I ate them.).

• November brought the mid-term elections, but, more importantly, it brought Thanksgiving, which is awesome. Beebe wasted no time and broke ground on their new Millville facility, and Mountaire held their annual Thanksgiving for Thousands, bringing together volunteers and contributions to help families enjoy the holiday. The Indian River School District announced it will hold a referendum in February to generate money to build new schools, and renovate others.

On the personal side of things, I ate a lot of food, watched a lot of sports and complained about a lot of things. So... nothing to see here.

• December, well, is right now. Look outside and see what happened for yourself. Earlier this month, Sussex County Council approved a new density ordinance, via I.G. Burton, that allows density calculations after subtracting out state tidal wetlands, and we also saw Arlett and longtime County Councilman George Cole leave their seats. South Bethany officials and residents sparred a bit about police coverage and future hirings in that department, and Mountaire shifted their donation focus from Thanksgiving to Christmas, holding another massive event.

On a personal side, I spent countless hours reading a bunch of old Coastal Points and realized that there weren’t enough photos of me looking intellectual and important in the paper. Expect that to change this year, assuming I can find a photo of myself looking intellectual or important.

Happy New Year!