Editorial — Sussex County showing financial independence

Date Published: 
May 19, 2017

Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson, along with Finance Director Gina Jennings, presented Sussex County Council this week with its proposed $143.8 million budget for the 2018 fiscal year.

That is a figure that can cause one to choke a little bit upon first hearing it, as any monetary figure that ends in “million” is one of significance. But one key figure jumped out to us right off the top.

For every dollar of realty and property tax spend by the County, 55 cents will be spend on public safety. The next closest expenditure is the general operations of the County government — close to 15 cents on the dollar.

There will be an increase of close to $680,000 of spending in the County’s agreement with the Delaware State Police, as that contract will now see Sussex County paying for the full total and real cost of 22 troopers county-wide. If the County balked at the higher figure, Jennings said the result would be five fewer troopers in the county. And, with the State facing major budgetary issues, more of the onus now falls on counties and municipalities to provide their own funding.

On the bright side (in addition to a fully-stocked stable of Delaware state troopers), the County appears to be responding well to a booming growth period in terms of emergency services. According to a review of last year’s budget and financial breakdown, there was a 5-percent increase in the number of EMS service calls last year, but the response time improved by 12 percent, according to officials. In an age of declining state funds, Sussex County is adapting and flourishing.

Point of No Return — Embrace ‘the storm’ that is heading our way

Date Published: 
May 19, 2017

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the calm before the storm.

It is a time-honored tradition to recognize this area’s “silly season” as that space on a (Coastal Point) calendar wedged between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. The truth be told, it’s really not that black-and-white. While those two weekends are indeed busy for our community, there’s typically a little lull after Memorial Day until the schools get out in surrounding areas, and there is a matching lull at the end of the summer when the kids go back to school.

But, for all intents and purposes, Memorial Day weekend is still when things start to really get hopping, particularly on the weekends.

So, yeah, you have one weekend left.

Obviously, that’s an oversimplification. For starters, this weekend plans to be plenty busy, as have most of the weekends around here since Easter. The parking meters sprang back to life in Bethany earlier this week — and parking meters don’t go into action unless there is money to be had for Bethany Beach. And our local restaurants have been bustling, unless that is just their excuse to keep me from getting a table.

And I get that. Nothing can kill a room’s appetite like seeing me sitting in the same room, sweat cascading off my brow and two forks raised in the air like a gladiator waving his weapons of destruction before...

But I digress.

The new season is soon upon us, and I know that often inspires grunts and groans over the crowds coming to the beach. Traffic will take on a whole new face. Spots on the beach become premier positions. “Booty shorts” and other unfortunate fashion elements begin to dot the coastal landscape. And parking? Let’s not even talk about the parking.

I get it. I do. And there are many, many times I find myself each summer staring at the (Coastal Point) calendar hanging on the wall, mentally calculating how many weeks until Labor Day. Summer is hard here, especially if you work in the coastal area.

But, guess what? Life is hard. Wear a helmet.

Like it or not, we live in a place that other people want to spend time at, particularly in the dog days of summer. We have an ocean. Inland bays. Rivers. Walking paths. World-class produce. Restaurants and shops that far exceed what you would expect to find in a community our size. Art galleries and antique shops that make for great ways to both kill some time on vacation and improve the aesthetics of your home. And we’re within a day trip of some of the most-populated regions in the country.

People like it here. Just like you. Just like me.

And it is the true backbone of our local economy. People come here for vacation over the summer and rent lodging, beach equipment, boats, personal watercraft and more. They shop. They dine. They realize what a terrific place it is and maybe take in an open house or start searching around for a second home they can rent out in the summer until they are ready to retire or work from home in our little oasis by the shore.

That escalates our housing market, which also contributes to contractors getting more work in building or modifying homes. It adds to our municipal coffers through transfer taxes and an increased property tax base. That money stays local, and helps a shop owner pay for his or her kid to play youth sports or participate in a club or music lessons, which brings in more money to those services so they can continue to grow and improve.

Do you think your paycheck isn’t dependent on our summer visitors or new neighbors? Think again. That is often where the money comes from that your customers or clients use to pay you for your services. The more money that stays in our community, in any community, the stronger community you will have.

If you believe in taking care of home first, and I most certainly do, you have to believe in keeping home economically vibrant and sustainable.

Yes, many of us work longer and harder hours during the summer because it’s demanded of us in the summer. There are more people, so there are more people to serve. But there are only 98 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and that means there are largely 98 days to really “get it done.” If you have a bad summer around here as a business, well, that can affect your entire year’s bottom line.

Which can lead down a slippery slope in a hurry.

Enjoy this last week “before the storm.” Get out and spend some time on the beach, take in your favorite restaurant or just casually drive up and down Routes 26 and 54 while you can.

But embrace “the storm” when it arrives. Be patient and courteous with our guests (and potential future neighbors) and give them an experience that will fill their minds throughout the rest of the year. They’re coming because they’ve either heard good things, or they’re returning to an area they love. Let’s give them reason to return.

Hey, it’s only 98 days, according to my (Coastal Point) calendar.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor — May 19, 2017

Date Published: 
May 19, 2017

Justin’s Beach House gets a big thank-you


Cancer. A word you don’t want to hear in the same sentence as your own name. One of life’s lemons, to be sure. And yet, between rounds of chemotherapy, I was given refreshing lemonade, in the form of a wonderful stay at Justin’s Beach House (JBH).

I want to publicly thank Justin’s family, who in the midst of their grief, had a vision to help other families who have also been impacted by cancer. Thank you to the builders, volunteers, board, local businesses, other sponsors and many hands who help to care for and maintain JBH.

Thank you to the JBH volunteers who gave us such a warm welcome. And thank you to those businesses who contributed gift certificates and goodies to make our stay more enjoyable.

I am overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of your community, and I thank God for the blessings you have given us.

And so I urge others to support this worthy cause. One such opportunity is to participate in the JBH 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, May 27. Know that your support makes a positive difference in the lives of so many.

M.W. Andrews

Family grateful for local heroes


It is with heartfelt thanks that I write this letter to all the firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, Masons, police officers, Big Fish Grill, Melson’s Funeral Home, co-workers at Compassionate Care Hospice and other family members and friends who have shown their support during the passing of my husband, Joe Carmody.

I cannot express in words my deep appreciation for your kindness, sympathy, thoughts, prayers and general support during this most difficult time of sorrow.

The comfort brought to me and Fallyn by your kind words, flowers, Mass cards, gifts of food, sympathy cards and other communication that you are all there to help cannot be measured in words.

The tribute and respect that was bestowed upon Joe and my family during his service will always live in my heart. I cannot thank you all enough.

Amanda Pearson-Carmody,

Fallyn and family

Bethany Beach

Reader speaks out for immersion program

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the Indian River School District Board of Education, Superintendent Mark Steele and Supervisor of Elementary Instruction Audrey Carey, and was sent to the Coastal Point for publication.

I am writing in support of the Spanish immersion program at John M. Clayton Elementary and the Indian River School District. My family opted to send our youngest to John M. Clayton for kindergarten because of the Immersion program. Geographically, we were right on the line of Lord Baltimore and John M. Clayton, and decided to take her from the private preschool she was attending and send her to John M. Clayton as our choice school.

We have always been happy with our decision.

The children in the immersion program at JMC have become a family as they have grown up. They have evolved as shy kindergarteners with wide-eyes, listening to a teacher speak a new language, to them to now being able to translate for school events. They even have playful competitions in the classroom in Spanish, as we have been able to see on the Spanish-immersion family nights. They easily switch from English to Spanish, and the evolution since kindergarten had been amazing to watch.

Over the years, every single person that I have ever told of the program has the same response. “Really? In Delaware? At a public school? That’s so great.”

The questions some parents had at the beginning of the program — like “How will we help them with their homework?” and “How will they understand if we don’t speak Spanish at home?” — all faded away as the years passed. They literally were immersed into a different language for half of the day, and they blossomed. That’s what happens with children. It’s just like speaking to a baby for a year or two, and finally one day they look at you and say something — and you start to understand each other.

I thought of all the statistics about what learning a foreign language does for you that I could add to this letter, but perhaps a few examples of how it has changed our life might be better.

My daughter has helped her grandparents organize some Spanish phrases for a recent trip to Chile, she reads books in Spanish, she understands when people speak to her in Spanish in stores and in the community, and maybe most notably, she has been able to cultivate a love for math — something she has always been taught in the Spanish classroom and something that is so important for young girls.

Imagine that! Math doesn’t have the best reputation when you learn it in English. Learning it in another language has taught her an all-important notion for life and for economics — that numbers are numbers, no matter what language you are speaking. And — as we all know —numbers talk.

These are just a few examples of this amazing program.

And please note that this program is bigger than politics or immigration. This is not about “us” versus “them” or the notion that “people should just speak English — it’s America,” all arguments that could be used by someone not well-versed in the benefits of learning another language.

This is about our children growing up in a global economy and becoming educated members of the world at large. A world that is getting smaller and more connected every day — a world where communication is key, and knowledge is power.

Thank you for listening and for finding a way to keep this program a reality in our public schools.

Monica Fleming Scott


Local family thankful for school district


Our youngest child will be graduating from Indian River High School on May 31, a member of the Class of 2017. 31 years ago, our oldest child was checking the names posted on the school doors of Lord Baltimore Elementary School to see which kindergarten class she would be in. This coming fall will be the first time in 31 years that we will not have a child enrolled in the school district.

I would like the thank all the teachers, administrators, coaches, staff and bus drivers at Lord Baltimore Elementary School, Selbyville Middle School and Indian River High School for all their hard work. All of my children thrived under your direction. Those that have previously graduated have continued onto college, graduated, and are successful members of society. You all had an influence in their lives and should take great pride in all the accomplishments of all your students over the years. The Indian River School District gets an A+.

(Our oldest grandchild will be checking the names posted on the door this coming fall!)

Thank you for everything.

Tom and Sally Ford


Reader stresses need of healthcare


The current frenzy over whether or not Obamacare should be replaced would be humorous if healthcare was not such an important part of our lives. Only our government could mandate you pay for a plan that provides little coverage at an exorbitant cost. They created a plan that was so expensive they needed to subsidize the cost for those that enrolled.

The plan had limited competition from insurance companies, allowing high rates. Bait-and-switch tactics regarding the pricing allowed insurance companies to raise rates and include higher deductibles, after drawing the consumers into their companies — a tactic that would have a regular business in deep trouble with the government.

I know from experience how “well” this program works. My son enrolled the first year with a plan that had a $100 a month payment and a $750 deductible. This year, the replacement plan cost $200 per month, with subsidy, and has a $3,900 deductible. Essentially, if he goes to an ER, he will have to pay $3,900 before his insurance pays a dime, and this is the Silver plan — others have much higher deductibles.

Now, if someone could explain how a person who needs a subsidy to pay his monthly cost can afford $3,900 or more out of pocket for a hospital visit makes any sense, I will be glad to listen. With the new plan, he will pay $2,400 a year for a plan he cannot afford to access, just so the government can say he has insurance, or he will face a penalty for not enrolling.

Until our representatives stop being “ Republicans” and “Democrats” and start dealing with this issue as elected officials of the American people, this really important issue has little likelihood of ever being resolved in the people’s interest.

Lou Scrivani