Letters to the Editor: March 18, 2011

Reader offers insight into Sams situation

On Feb. 16, 2011, the Sussex County Republican Executive Committee passed a resolution asking Sussex County Republican Chairman Ron Sams to resign, yet he is still hanging on. Why would anyone want to continue to serve in a voluntary leadership position wherein the overwhelming majority of the people on the committee have lost all confidence in his ability to lead it?

Consider the following:

Sams never released the vote results from the state senate candidates’ debate and forum held on Sunday, June 28, 2009, at the Manor House in Lewes for the special election to replace Sen. Thurman Adams, who had passed away. Sams decided to “take the ballots home to count.”

Rather than go with the candidate that had obviously won the vote and carried the room, he went with one of the GOP’s “good old boys.” His decision ignored the will of the Executive Committee people in the room, took the only legislative representation Sussex County had off the State Joint Finance Committee, opened the Republican Party up to the threat of a Democrat supermajority in the House of Representatives and caused a second expensive special election to be held.

Sams has failed to identify with, embrace or gain support and membership from any of the local conservative grassroots Tea Party-type organizations. For instance, he has never addressed the 9/12 Delaware Patriots or regularly attended their meetings. He has never offered any vision as to how to grow Republican Party membership in Sussex County.

He refused to display the political signs of the U.S. Senate and Congress Republican primary winners in the yard at his home, thereby openly opposing their candidacies in public. Sams does not cause representative district chairpersons to hold regular monthly meetings of their own. In fact, he has sabotaged those chairpersons that do by scheduling small but mandatory meetings of his own on those very same days.

Sams opposed current Sheriff Jeff Christopher’s request to run as a Republican because Christopher would not change his own personal support away from Christine O’Donnell and Glen Urquhart to Mike Castle and Michelle Rollins in the 2010 primary race.

Sams told Christopher he was “not a Republican” if he did not support the “chosen” Republican candidates. Sams finally gave in at the last hour available and allowed him to file as a Republican when Sams realized that Christopher was going to file as an Independent if he was not allowed to run as a Republican.

Sams worked hard against a local Republican candidate that dared to run against one of the “good old boys.” Sams denied the state senate primary candidate an opportunity to speak at any meetings of the Sussex County GOP. He violated Article XII Section 4 of the Rules of the Republican Party of the State of Delaware by deeming the candidate’s opponent as “the endorsed candidate of the party” without holding an endorsement meeting as required in the rules.

Sams lent credibility to a personal attack Web site about the candidate through publicized comments, and he personally recruited elected officials to greet at the polls to support the “good old boy” on Election Day.

Any potential candidate not chosen by the GOP “good old boys” will continue to be targeted for defeat so long as the Republican Party is lead by the unscrupulous. Mr. Sams should resign immediately for the good of our party. There is no way we can unite under his leadership.

John Poe,
Election District Committeeman 2-35

GOP member wants Sams to resign

Egypt and Libya have their dictators, and right now Sussex County has its own version of a dictator who refuses to leave. Sussex GOP Chairman Ron Sams has repeatedly ignored public calls for his resignation, even though the voters have spoken and the chairman was asked to leave by a 58 percent to 42 percent majority.

The vote was taken at the Feb. 16 Sussex GOP County meeting, after repeated attempts by Republicans to air their grievances had been obstructed and undermined by Chairman Sams at previous meetings.

What kind of Republican blatantly ignores a large majority of voters demanding his immediate resignation? How long can we endure the yoke of servitude under a ruler that has lost the consent of the governed? Ron Sams should resign immediately.

Lynn Brannon

Clear Space celebrates a milestone

Just a little more than six years ago, a new performing arts company began operations with a mission to expand performing arts options in the county and to build a Sussex County-based cadre of professional artists – an investment in the future.

These six years have been an exciting journey for all involved – directors, actors, volunteers, children who get firsthand acting experience performing before live audiences, and, most of all, the audiences. During this period the company has produced shows such as “Hello, Dolly!” Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “The Crucible” and “South Pacific,” just to name a few.

It has been a period of experimentation and growth, with an amazing response from the public of which the Board of Directors is rightfully proud, although all the credit belongs to the executive and artistic directors and the troupe of actors who have become a stable and reliable source of artistic talent for Clear Space’s productions.

The past year brought several changes in the development of Clear Space. The company’s name was changed to “the Clear Space Theatre Company” to reflect more precisely the artistic endeavors in which it is engaged. In September of last year, they moved into their first permanent home – the former Rehoboth Beach Theatre of the Arts located at 20 Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth Beach, where the company ended the year with its sixth annual production of “Scrooge,” and original musical with book and lyrics by Ken Skrzesz and music by Doug Yetter, the founders of Clear Space.

In 2010, a grand total of 22,431 audience members attended one or more of Clear Space’s 59 performances – an increase of 30 percent from the previous year. The company continued its relationships with the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover, as well as the Freeman Stage at Bayside in Fenwick Island, where Clear Space’s performance of “100 Years of Broadway III” saw over 1,300 attendees for a single performance – a record for both organizations.

Since the beginning of its sixth season in September, Clear Space has produced “100 Years of Broadway II,” “Our Town,” the above-mentioned “Scrooge,” “An American Songbook 2011,” and “Dirty Blonde,” the story of Mae West – all to overwhelmingly enthusiastic response.

More than producing shows, Clear Space is committed to arts education in the belief that education in the arts is education for a lifetime. Its Arts Institute provides classes for children in grades 1–8 in acting, singing and dancing. Many students have also been cast in roles in Clear Space’s production, re-enforcing what they learn in the classroom. Children are, after all, the audience and performers of the future, and our investment to keep the arts alive.

The Board of Directors is proud to be part of what the founders envisioned when they established this company in Sussex County. They believe in the maxim that the past is prologue to the future and, that the best is yet to come. We hope that many will join us as partners to continue building and expanding Clear Space’s mission. Register for a class, audition, make a tax deductible donation. Visit our Web site at www.ClearSpaceTheatre.org for more information. Join us. We know you will find it just as exciting as we have.

Henry Cox, Dennis Chupella, Fran Feighery, Pam Fitzgerald, Robert Fitzgerald,
Cheryl Graves, Sharon Gambill, Wendy Harrold, Rick Hayward, Vice Chair Valoire Jarrell,
Len Kidwell, Polly Mervine, Chair Mary Kay Ryan, Joan Thomas, Diane Whitty
Clear Space Board of Directors

Colella throws support behind Wood

Accuracy requires a response to a letter to the editor last week regarding accreditation of Ocean View’s Public Safety Department. I am a former public safety officer and understand the issue. Explanation is necessary.

Ocean View’s pursuing of accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) is the very issue then-Councilman Roy Thomas, apparently now Mr. Pickrell’s campaign manager, complained about two years ago – excessive costs and trying to compete with Bethany Beach. Now, a Mr. Pickrell supporter is complaining that Mayor Wood was “failing to pursue” accreditation. Read on.

The Delaware General Assembly established the Delaware Police Accreditation Commission (DPAC) in 2008, about the time Ocean View was working toward CALEA accreditation. The Assembly’s reasoning was, as the legislation states, “many smaller police departments within the state do not have the resources or manpower to complete the rigorous standards issued by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies Inc.” (CALEA), and “the effectiveness of public safety departments could be better served by a statewide accreditation council and standards achievable by a majority of the departments.”

Ocean View changed focus and volunteered to meet DPAC standards. In August 2008, after reviewing requested Ocean View policies, DPAC notified Ocean View that the criteria to receive DPAC incentive funds were met. Ocean View meets the standards published to date. Ocean View does exactly what the General Assembly wanted – and more.

Achieving and maintaining CALEA certification is expensive, and only five municipalities in Delaware are CALEA-accredited, including Wilmington, Dover, Newark, Millsboro and Bethany Beach, plus State Police. These municipalities have an average police staff of 134. Include the State Police, and the average is 266. Seaford, Laurel, Bridgeville, Greenwood, Milford and Selbyville, among others are not CALEA-accredited.

Instead of pursuing manpower-intensive CALEA standards, Ocean View did exactly what the General Assembly of Delaware wanted. Where is the issue? Why would we proceed with another costly process beyond our General Assembly requirements – especially at a time of tight budgets?

Ocean View residents have had enough of Roy Thomas and the ilk connected to him. Being a former police officer does not qualify anyone for the office of mayor.

Where’s the beef? Mayor Wood got it right. He deserves your vote for re-election. He certainly will get mine.

David Colella
Ocean View

Reader questions direction of DNREC

One has to wonder, is DNREC becoming an agency of thugs?

First they heartlessly killed two beautiful and defenseless swans on White’s Creek. No communication with folks that live on the creek. No warning, no alternatives, no meetings. Bang! Swans removed!

DNREC decision.

Now they are doing similar with the docks on Assawoman Canal.

Bang! Docks removed!

DNREC decision.

What has happened to communication and civility? What has happened to listening and getting all the viewpoints to determine the best for the majority involved? What has happened to allow a state agency to behave in this manner, with little to no regard for the families they are negatively impacting? What has happened to DNREC?

Eileen Hargrove

Lawless supports Wood, Sheeran in OV

Ocean View is no longer comic relief for the readers of the local press. Items are brought before Council, debated, discussed and decided with a minimum of drama. The community is invited to assist in the formation of good and well-reasoned resolutions for the benefit of our town.

The contrast with the events of just a few years ago could not be more stark.

Much of the credit for the positive change must be given to our mayor, Gordon Wood. He has presided over council meetings with respect for both the body and the community. He has shown a determination to create an atmosphere in which the best possible ideas will be heard and valued. I enthusiastically support his re-election. I will do everything I can to help.

The other council member seeking re-election has been a source of concern and discord. His ill-considered actions have cost our town tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary legal expense. He needs to be replaced!

I have worked with Tom Sheeran, and I am impressed by his thoughtful manner. He is not interested in personal acclaim and is seeking office solely to serve our community. I will vote for him and ask for your support.

Robert R. Lawless
Ocean View

Mango’s a great partner with JWJ Foundation
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Alex Heidenberger and Mango’s of Bethany Beach, and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication:

The Justin Jennings Foundation wants to thank you again for a great fundraiser and a great time. You were the perfect host, and your staff couldn’t do enough for us.

The food was excellent, as were the bartenders.

I’d like the community to know that Mango’s opened their doors for us, even though they were closed for the season.

With the obstacles they had to deal with, the evening was a success and did, in fact, benefit Justin’s Beach House.

We look forward to Mango’s hosting the after party for our third annual JWJ Memorial Day 5K.

Thank you.

R. Craig Nantais, Chairman
Justin W. Jennings Foundation

Men’s club offering guidance, service

The St. Ann’s Parish Men’s Club’s purpose is to encourage spiritual growth and a sense of community in the parish. The members assist in parish liturgical, operational, educational, social and maintenance activities, in concert with the pastor and maintains liaison with the parish council and other parish organizations.

The club members are a diverse group of men, some who retired to Bethany Beach and surrounding areas from the Mid-Atlantic area. They are from all professional walks of life, both the private and public sectors. They’re a special group of fun loving guys who do a lot for their church and their community.

We meet monthly (the third Tuesday of the month), and run the parish Christmas and Saint Patrick’s Day parties and a parish picnic. We also sponsor a golf outing, a men’s retreat and various other events. For more information about our organization, you may visit St Ann’s Web site at www.stannsbethany.org.

Our next meeting is on March 15 at 7 p.m. in Delaney Hall – adjacent to the church. Our guest speakers will be Craig Stevens and Doug Robb, from DelDOT. Their presentation will cover the general construction of the new Indian River Bridge and the upcoming roadway approach contract. The topic has a wide appeal and should be of interest to all of us.

The Men’s Club is continuously open to parish men to participate in this vital Christian community organization. Please consider attending under no obligation. You will have an opportunity to visit with us and hopefully consider becoming a part of our dynamic club.

Thomas R. Defibaugh, President
St. Ann’s Parish Men’s Club

AARP works with local dentists for kids

Dental problems are one of the major reasons children miss school. That’s why the South Coastal Chapter of the AARP decided to sponsor a dental health project for children at the three elementary schools in the area.

Three local dentists, Dr. Lois James, Dr. James Kramer and Peninsula Dental, presented fun-filled programs to first-graders at Lord Baltimore, Showell and John Clayton elementary schools in February. February was Dental Health Month.

Each student went home with a gift packet including a toothbrush, toothpaste, a dental coloring book and a sticker, thanks to contributions from chapter members and dentists. Each school also received a book for their libraries contributed by the chapter.

We would like to thank Dr. James, Dr. Kramer and Peninsula Dental for their gift of time and materials. Also, this project would not have been possible without the ideas and leadership of chapter member Rose Marie Oruc and the chapter volunteers, Peggy Bennett, Jane Burdinski Don Clement, Sue Culin, Maureen Eisenhart, Brenda Fegelein, Andrea Gowetski, Lori Hartsig, Lucille Kurtz, Pat Mann, Alicia McDermott, Kathy Miles, Sue Rhue, Bobbie Schoff, Jan Thiel, Dee Treuting and Ann Woodrum.

Not only was this project worthwhile, it was lots of fun. There is no better audience than first-graders. We look forward to doing it again next year!

Maureen Eisenhart,
Chair Community Service – AARP
South Coastal Chapter #5226