Sussex County News

Sussex County, Delaware

Population:

  • 156,638 (2000 Census)

County council meetings

  • Tuesdays, 10 a.m. (second Tuesday of each month), council chambers, county administrative building; council meetings and other public meetings held in the council chambers are broadcast over the Internet

Planning & Zoning meets:

  • Thursdays, two to four times per month, 6 p.m.; occasional Wednesday afternoons; council chambers, county administrative building

Board of Adjustments meets:

  • Mondays, two to four times per month, 7 p.m.; council chambers, county administrative building

Elections:

  • Council members elected by district, to four-year terms; council president selected from among council members

County administrative building:

  • 2 The Circle, Georgetown, DE 19947; (302) 855-7700

Web site

General e-mail inquiries

County Council 2013-2014:

  • Michael Vincent, Council President, District 1
  • Samuel Wilson Jr., Council Vice-President, District 2
  • Joan Deaver, District 3
  • George B. Cole, District 4
  • Vance C. Phillips, District 5

County Administrator:

  • Todd Lawson

Council Administrative Staff:

  • Robin Griffith

Finance Director:

  • Gina Jennings

Public Information:

  • Chip Guy

Public Works Director:

  • Michael Brady

Director of Planning & Zoning:

  • Lawrence Lank

Director of Planning & Zoning Commission:

  • Robert C. Wheatley

Police:

  • Delaware State Police Troop 4

Sheriff:

  • Jeffrey Christopher

Emergency:

  • 911

Non-emergency police contact:

  • (302) 856-5850

Sewer service:

  • Sussex County provides central sewer service to communities throughout the county, while some private property owners and other communities utilize on-site septic or sewer systems of their own.

County reveals proposed $143.8M 2018 budget

Earlier this week, the Sussex County Council reviewed its $143.8 million draft budget for the 2018 fiscal year.

In a presentation by County Administrator Todd Lawson and County Finance Director Gina Jennings at the May 16 council meeting, the council was first given a rundown as to the highlights of the previous fiscal year’s budget.

Long Neck community looks for more police

Long Neck Strong group asks for help with safety

Residents of Long Neck want to keep their community safe and are taking steps to do so. A group of citizens attended the May 9 Sussex County Council meeting to speak to the council about their safety needs.

County discusses trash, illegal dump sites

Trash has been a topic of discussion for some time in Sussex County. Over the years, County Councilman Sam Wilson has voiced his upset with littering, and Councilman Rob Arlett recently focused on illegal dump sites.

At the May 9 council meeting, County Constable Ryan Stuart said one of the main responsibilities of his office is to handle property-maintenance complaints.

County council gets an update from the Freeman Stage

Patti Grimes, of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, gave Sussex County Council an update on The Freeman Stage at Bayside on April 11.

“If you can believe it, this is our 10th year,” said Grimes. “We want to thank Sussex County for being such a great partner and to let you know that what started as a vision in an arts desert in 2008 has turned into a thriving arts area.”

Burton to serve 30 years for Bennett murder

Matthew BurtonMatthew BurtonOn Wednesday, April 5, Dagsboro resident Matthew Burton admitted to having committed the rape and murder of Nicole Bennett nearly five years ago.

As reported by the Cape Gazette newspaper, Delaware Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley asked Burton if he raped and murdered Bennett.

“Yes,” replied Burton.

Burton, who was 28 at the time of the murder, is now 33. Last week, he pled guilty to second-degree murder, being sentenced to 40 years, suspended after 15 years, and second-degree rape, for which he was sentenced to 25 years, also suspended after 15.

As a result, Burton will serve a total of 30 years in a Level 5 prison facility, with credit for time served, after which he will serve 20 years on probation.

County purchases property to expand industrial park

Sussex County recently purchased King Farm, a 74-acre property off Park Avenue, east of Georgetown, for $2.2 million. The property will be added to the adjacent Sussex County Industrial Park, which currently houses 20 businesses that employ approximately 900 people.

County council discusses state budget, reassessment

Sussex County officials are looking ahead at the possibility of a statewide property reassessment and potential impacts at the county government level as state officials work to prepare a 2018-fiscal-year budget that they hope will address a $350 million state budget shortfall coming in to Gov. John Carney’s term.

Route 113 changes show promise, but still carry concerns

Feedback is coming in for the Millsboro-South Study, which proposes widening Route 113 and a new Route 24 connector road. The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) is inviting the public to comment on the plans, officially laid out in the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS).

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: IRSD polls open for referendum again March 2

Local polls will open on Thursday, March 2, for the Indian River School District’s current-expense referendum.

Comparing it to the November 2016 referendum, which failed by 20 votes, IRSD Acting Superintendent Mark Steele said, “We’re still asking you for the same 49 cents,” but the expenses have been restructured.

County appoints Stevenson to P&Z seat

The Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission no longer has a vacancy, as Kim Hoey Stevenson will fill the seat formerly held by current Sussex County Councilman I.G. Burton III.

Stevenson, who currently serves as the communications director for the Delaware Senate Republican Caucus, as well as a freelance writer, was publically interviewed by the Sussex County Council on Feb. 14.

Locals rally in support of Warren after Sessions debate

Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: Protesters rallied in Georgetown on Sunday to show their support of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, after the Senator was silenced during the reading of Coretta Scott King’s 1986 letter opposing the appointment of now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a federal judge.Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: Protesters rallied in Georgetown on Sunday to show their support of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, after the Senator was silenced during the reading of Coretta Scott King’s 1986 letter opposing the appointment of now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a federal judge.About 200 people gathered on The Circle in Georgetown on Sunday, Feb. 12, to participate in a rally and march sponsored by the Progressive Democrats of Sussex County and the Sussex County Democratic Party, with the theme “We Shall Not Be Silenced.”

The rally was in response to the silencing of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during the proceedings leading up to the vote on Jeff Sessions’ nomination for U.S. Attorney General. Warren had begun to read a letter written by Coretta Scott King, widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., when she was ordered to stop by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who claimed she was in violation of a Senate rule known as Rule 19, which prohibits senators from “impugning” the integrity of their colleagues on the floor of the Senate.

Joanne Cabry of the Progressive Democrats of Sussex County and Sussex County Democratic Party Chair Jane Hovington led a rally that included the reading of Scott King’s letter, in which she explained why she opposed the nomination of Sessions as a federal judge. Five women took turns reading sections of the 1986 letter, which was prohibited from being read on the Senate floor during those proceedings 30 years ago, as well.

Hovington told the crowd that the rally and march were meant to “put Mitch McConnell on notice that we will not be silenced. We will not be intimidated and we will not be frightened,” she said. “We will remember, and we will resist.”

County again participating in CDBG program this year

Sussex County will once again participate in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program this year, with the county council voicing its approval following a public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

County approves conditional use for Sussex Consortium

The Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission this week voted in favor of approving a conditional use request for 25 acres of AR-1 land, located on the southwest side of Sweetbriar Road in Lewes, to build a new school for the Sussex Consortium.

Sussex County now has comprehensive electronic zoning map

Completing a project from the 2016 fiscal year, Sussex County now has a comprehensive electronic zoning map.

DelDOT seeks input on new Route 113 revamp concept

Nearly two years have passed since the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) abandoned the unpopular plan for a Route 113 bypass for Millsboro south to Selbyville. Instead, they now plan to widen the existing highway and build a new road connecting Route 113 to Route 24.

Sussex County committee discusses services for the elderly

The Sussex County Advisory Committee on Aging & Adults with Physical Disabilities met this week and provided to those in attendance a brief update as to what services a number of area organizations provide.

Sports commission: Tournament a ‘Slam Dunk’ for Sussex County

Matthew J. Robinson of the Delaware Sports Commission spoke before the Sussex County Council this week regarding the success of Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament.

“Really, why I’m here today is, one, to thank, and, two, share on the success of the tournament,” said Robinson at the council’s Jan. 24 meeting. “I think it’s been a great example of cooperation.”

Feds deny seismic testing permits for Atlantic Ocean

It’s Part Two in a major victory for those concerned about the impact of fossil fuel exploration on a clean, healthy Atlantic Ocean. Seismic testing has been banned in the U.S.’s Atlantic Ocean waters, for now.

Coastal towns find strength in numbers

In coastal Delaware, it’s time to ACT up.

Perhaps a decade has passed since the coastal towns came together in an official alliance. But the Association of Coastal Towns (ACT) is re-forming, with Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Fenwick Island already in on the ACT.

County recognizes Lank for decades of service

Coastal Point • Maria Counts Sussex County Planning & Zoning Director Lawrence Lank, center, receives recognition from Sussex County Council members and employees for his service to the County. Lank was the longest-serving employee in Sussex County history, starting his tenure in 1969 as a map draftsman. He assumed the director position in 1985.Coastal Point • Maria Counts Sussex County Planning & Zoning Director Lawrence Lank, center, receives recognition from Sussex County Council members and employees for his service to the County. Lank was the longest-serving employee in Sussex County history, starting his tenure in 1969 as a map draftsman. He assumed the director position in 1985.After 47 years of service to Sussex County government, Planning & Zoning Director Lawrence Lank will retire on Jan. 6.

The longest-serving County employee in its history, Lank was hired Oct. 14, 1969, as a map draftsman. He then went on to work as a planning tech from 1977 until January 1985, when he became the active director. In April of that year, he took over as permanent Planning & Zoning director.

“We’re certainly sad to see him go and wish him all the best on his next chapter,” said County Administrator Todd Lawson.

During its Jan. 3 meeting, Sussex County council members took the time to recognize Lank for his service and say a few words.

Centuries-old event wins ‘Best Event’ tourism awardx

Coastal Point • Susan Lyons: Organizers of the popular Return Day event accept their award from Southern Delaware Tourism for ‘Best Event.’Coastal Point • Susan Lyons: Organizers of the popular Return Day event accept their award from Southern Delaware Tourism for ‘Best Event.’Who would have thought a political event from the 1700s would still be making such a big impact on tourism?

But every two years, Return Day brings thousands of people to Georgetown to watch political rivals literally “bury the hatchet.”

It’s perhaps the last event of its kind in the United States, and it won the 2016 “Best Event” award at the Southern Delaware Tourism luncheon on Dec. 12.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) is no stranger to the event. He said Delaware political candidates can look forward to the parade as soon as they win their primaries.

County council members bid farewell to Deaver

This week’s Sussex County Council meeting was the last for longtime Councilwoman Joan Deaver, the outgoing District 3 representative, who was the first woman to be elected to the council.

County holds workshop on new comp plan

The Sussex County Council, along with members of the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission and County staff met earlier this week for a workshop on the County’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan.

A comprehensive plan, which is required by state law, is a long-range policy guide for decision-making regarding the future of the natural and built environment of a community.

Candidates bury the hatchet at Return Day celebration

Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Above, ‘Town Crier’ Kirk Lawson reads the results of the 2016 elections. Top right, Miss Delaware Amanda Debus waves to the crowd as part of the parade.Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Above, ‘Town Crier’ Kirk Lawson reads the results of the 2016 elections. Top right, Miss Delaware Amanda Debus waves to the crowd as part of the parade.Many people flocked to Georgetown last Thursday to take part in the unique tradition known as Return Day.

Back in 1791, state law moved the Sussex County seat from Lewes to Georgetown, as the municipality was a more central location within the county. Residents would “return” to Georgetown two days following the election to hear the election results.

That tradition has been kept alive, and every two years, Sussex Countians return to Georgetown to hear the reading of the election results for the county, read by the town crier from the balcony of the Sussex County Courthouse.

This year, festivities began during the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 9, with music and a street fair around Georgetown’s Circle.

On Nov. 10, mayors of Sussex municipalities participated in a hatchet toss among seven competing mayors, which was won by Ocean View Mayor Walter Curran.

Online exclusive: Comp Plan forum to focus on developers’ perspective

Residents of Sussex County are being encouraged to attend a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Sussex County tonight. The forum, “The Developers’ Perspective: An Effective 2018 Comprehensive Plan,” will be held in County Council Chambers in Georgetown on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m.