Letters to the Editor

Referendum is critical to community’s future


All of us are aware that south Sussex County has been growing rapidly and thousands of new homes are in the process of being built. This rapid growth has taken place without adequate infrastructure growth, including the school system. As a result, the Indian River Schools are way over capacity.

The projections made by the Department of Education showed that there will be 12,137 students by 2024. Right now, there are 10,942 students, which already results in severe overcrowding. Twenty-three teachers have no classrooms to teach in! The solution to this issue is building a new school or expansion of existing buildings.

Superintendent Steele and his team are to be commended for doing exceptional work in planning. They have come up with a very innovative and cost-effective solution of building only one high school, convert the existing building into a middle school and redistributing students from other schools to address the overcrowding problem. Building the new school will cost $146 million. The State will pay $87.5 million, whereas the local school district has to come up with $58.5 million.

To raise this money, the IRSD is holding a referendum on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. I encourage everyone to go out and vote. There are two unique things about referendum voting:

You can vote at any polling station in the IRSD: East Millsboro Elementary School, Georgetown Elementary School, Indian River High School, Long Neck Elementary School, Lord Baltimore Elementary School and Selbyville Middle School.

You don’t have to be a property owner or a registered voter to cast your vote in the school referendum. District residents who are U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age are eligible to vote.

Absentee ballots are available from the Election Office until Feb. 10, 2020. Information is at this webpage: https://www.irsd.net/referendum/absentee_ballot_information.

Failure by the community to pass this referendum will force the school district to rent/purchase additional trailers to accommodate student needs. That money comes out of operating expenses, which will result in cuts in essential school services, and the overcrowding problem remains unsolved.

If the referendum is passed, the increase in your property tax will be between $48 and $63 per year, based upon the issuance of the bonds. This will be phased in over three years. If you have a mortgage, it will add approximately $4 per month on average. After three years, the cost starts to decline, and disappears once the bonds are paid. For detailed information on the referendum, please go to: https://www.irsd.net/referendum.

Good schools are essential to attract and keep health professionals in our area. Also, any new business considering relocation looks for good schools. Finally, good schools increase property values of all of us living in the community.

One of the ingredients that made America the leader of the free world is our educational system. Every child in our nation has a right to a good education; that’s why our school system guarantees education through high school to all children.

It is the responsibility of the community to provide resources to the school system. The communities in which we lived supported the school system and that is how all of us and our children were educated. As members of this community, it is now our turn to pass on the favor to assure the children are properly educated. Let us do it by voting yes on the school referendum on Feb. 13.

Mohammad Akhter


Chamber grateful for support with event


On behalf of the Board of Directors, the staff and our member businesses, the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce (BFACC) would like to send our gratitude for the community support of the 2020 Fire & Ice Festival. In its third year, record numbers of visitors and community members alike came out for a weekend of affordable, family-fun.

Our amazing vendors, Ice Lab, utilized over 56,000 pounds of ice and sculpted beautiful masterpieces. This year, with the Chamber staff and amazing Festival Coordinator Katina Dawson, additional programming was created to support the ice, such as educational opportunities, bonfires, juggling, face-painting, movies, shopping specials and the tasting tour.

An ice event in January is not the easiest event to promote to a beach town. We are grateful to the Burbage family and Bethany Beach Ocean Suites, Southern Delaware Tourism, as they supported the event since year one. This year we received support from the Delaware Tourism Office, the Towns of Bethany Beach and Millville, along with Sussex County. These partnerships helped offset costs that would typically fall on the business community in a quiet time of year and allowed for the expansion out into The Den at Bear Trap Dunes and the Town of Millville with signature pieces.

The Chamber businesses bring the fun! From giving away s’mores, helping with the ice slide, hiring DJs, taking photos, volunteering, complimentary treats and hot chocolate, crafts and more, their enthusiasm is what makes the experience positive for all! We look forward to continuing to grow the event to provide an economic boost in a typically quiet time of year. Thank you to Dogfish, Nemours, Coastal Point and our 50 business sponsors for making this event possible!

As the Chamber director, I cannot help but reflect on the joy, generosity and sense of community we experienced as a staff this week. “Thank you” never seems enough; we are proud to be a part of something so special. Looking forward to Jan. 29-31, 2021!

Lauren Weaver, Executive Director
Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce


People’s Place thankful for generosity


The People’s Place Board of Directors and staff send their sincerest thanks!

The generosity and kindness People’s Place experienced during the 2019 holiday season was astounding, and the agency is grateful to each and every individual that helped make this time of year special for so many in need.

Starting in November and throughout the entire month of December, local groups, businesses, families and donors of all ages delivered hundreds of gifts and made monetary contributions for the children and families we assist.

Your donations were distributed to over 350 children and adults that receive mental health counseling, domestic violence services, or reside temporarily in one of our emergency shelters. You made the season brighter for foster children in our residential program and foster youth working with case managers to learn independent living skills. You also helped provide food and gifts for disabled veterans and their children, and even donated Christmas trees for those that had none.

The compassion you demonstrated not only brings hope for a better future, it reveals the goodness of mankind. Thank you for making a difference and thank you for your partnership as we “help people find their path to growth and independence.”

People’s Place, a non-profit human services organization with offices in Dover, Milford, Millsboro, Seaford and Smyrna, offers varied services to the residents of Delaware. The agency is a full member of the United Way of Delaware and receives state and federal grants, as well as private donations, which ensure the success of our programs.

For more information about how you can help or the programs offered by People’s Place, please call 422-8033, ext. 198.

Kim Rigby, Communications and Donor Relations
People’s Place


Reader pushes for passage of referendum


Feb. 13! Mark your calendars. It’s a really important date … and it’s just around the corner. It’s the date when we all get to decide if we’re going to do the right thing for our children’s education here in the Indian River School District.

If you have been following the rational for the referendum, then you are well aware of the needs. You will know that the overcrowding in the northern district has reached crisis level… that currently 22 teachers are without classrooms and move from room to room using carts. The district is using 12 portable classrooms this year, which are costly and create safety concerns. 

They are located outside the main buildings, and next year additional portable classrooms will be needed at a very considerable cost. Enrollment is projected to continue to grow during the next five years.

Our children have the right to be educated and have the opportunity to have a better future. It benefits them, their families and our nation as a whole. And they deserve to learn in the best possible schools and conditions that their community can provide. So, as their community and as caring adults, we must provide proper schools for our children. They are our future. They will become our educated citizenry — to prosper, create new jobs, raise the next generation and protect our values as a country.

People who don’t support an educated next generation to the best of their ability abuse the power given to them to see that a suitable education be provided for all their children. It is their duty. It was provided for them, and now, it is their turn to provide a good education for their children.

The time has never been better to approve this referendum, as it provides the best possible value for taxpayers. Currently, Indian River has the lowest property tax rate in the county and with referendum approval will most likely continue to have the lowest rate in the county. Indian River School District residents who are U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age can vote in the referendum. Voter registration is not required, but residents must provide proof of identification or residency at each polling place. So, come on folks!

Your vote is essential. Do what is best for our children.

Vote yes on Feb. 13 for the school referendum.

Bonnie Rae
South Bethany


Opinion: Developers should pay for schools


Here we go again, another referendum, this time to replace a school due to overcrowding just when all the snowbird property owners are away.

Sussex County continues to allow developers to develop 227 homes (Old Mill Landing), 700 units in Selbyville and numerous other developments along Route 54 and everywhere else. Also, there are a couple of apartment complexes coming along Zion Church Road and in Ocean View supposedly for affordable housing for the workers in the area, so they don’t have to drive a half-hour to work?

That was one of the excuses Schell Bros used at the hearing for Route 20 apartments that was heavily opposed. Remember, rentals don’t pay property tax, so they are not contributing to school finances.

Then there’s the sanctuary-state status in Delaware that is one of the biggest contributors to school overcrowding. Coming down Route 113 through Georgetown in the morning the school buses stop at just about every motel, and they fill up. Again, rentals don’t pay property taxes.

Most of the folks I see moving to Sussex County are retired people with no school-age children, but I’m sure in the thousands of developments being built in this county there will be some kids needing schools.

I recently read in the paper that the Planning & Zoning Chairman Robert Wheatly has heard about the traffic, trees, pollution, floods and EMS. He said we need to come up with something new. I’m guessing he’s tired of hearing that the same old basic infrastructure of this county can’t sustain the development that is happening. Well, how about the school overcrowding is that new?

He said EMS, but what about fire and police? They can’t keep up now. One of the commissioners at the meeting on the Schell Bros Route 20 apartments asked if the Roxanna VFD had a ladder tall enough to reach. Sussex County has volunteer fire departments, and a ladder is nice if you have the people to get it on the street in a reasonable amount of time with the proper training. The state police do a great job with what they have coming from Georgetown, and they need more.

How clueless are the people deciding our future? Is it true money talks, BS walks? It sure seems that way. I look at the Dirickson Creek and see the Waters Edge Community, and what I was told by DNREC at the time was they will have a buffer all along the water’s edge, with trees and vegetation to help runoff, and now most of it has been removed and their back yards go all the way to the water with fancy walkways and nothing to stop runoff. They also told me they will never have a marina, but they do now. FYI, Dirickson Creek is polluted most of the summer to the point you can’t take fish or crabs or swim.

Instead of asking the property owners to pay for schools that most of us don’t use, how about we ask Schell Brothers, Bunting-Murry, Ryan, Beazer and the rest of the builders in this county to combine their forces and build some schools to help with overcrowding, you know out of the kindness of their hearts. I’m sure they are always looking for ways to help the communities. Or maybe the IRSD could do like the volunteer fire companies and have fundraisers to raise money to build schools and other projects. I love a good carnival. Or how about a combination of both?

Wayne Wagner


Reader responds to previous letter


This letter is in response the Letter to the Editor that appeared in your Jan. 24, 2020, edition titled “Reader responds to party shakeup” that discusses the lack of civility and morality among all members of the Republican Party.

Interestingly, the letter itself is laced with the same political vitriol that regularly flows from the lips of the likes of Maxine Waters, Cory Booker, Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler.

My dear old grandmother used the expression “the pot calling the kettle black” when a person is guilty of the very thing which they accuse another. How thankful we should be for the wisdom of the elderly. They tell it like it is without wasting words.

Cliff Wolfe