Letters to the Editor -- February 4, 2011

Reader appreciated bypass stories

During the recent controversy involving DelDOT’s Route 113 Eastern Bypass, the citizens of southeastern Sussex made their voices heard by contacting all three of their local legislators: Sen. George Bunting, Rep. John Atkins and Rep. Gerald Hocker.

Many other members of the Sussex Delegation, such as Sen. Joe Booth, came forward to address the concerns of thousands of Delawareans regarding the ill-conceived and financially disastrous plan.

Citizens desperate to have a voice had nowhere else to turn as repeated requests for public hearings had been denied by DelDOT, not counting clandestine meetings with special interest groups who profited hugely from developer payouts before the plan was ever approved.

I am grateful to these legislators and to all of their constituents who stood up and said, “We will be heard!”

Over 400 homes and farms were spared from corridor procurement as not a single Sussex legislator supported the poorly designed plan, which featured three new bridges – including another longer span across the Indian River. Here in southeastern Sussex, we are only too familiar with DelDOT’s bridge construction skills.

I also want to thank Monica Scott, Darin McCann, Patricia Titus and Susan Lyons of the Coastal Point for their steadfast coverage of this issue.

Monica’s three-part series exposing the plan and its potential impact for Sussex Countians was nothing short of groundbreaking. Through her thorough research and investigation, she presented the facts in a compelling fashion, which spurred many to action in response. The map in the Coastal Point of the proposed highway east of Dagsboro, Frankford and Selbyville was worth a thousand words.

I am now convinced that we must always be vigilant regarding DELDOT as they seem to want to play only by their own ill-crafted “rules.” Whether you are here by birth, or here by choice, in Sussex, we have shown them how deeply rooted democracy is in southern Delaware.

Carrie W. Bennett
Bennett Orchards

Editor’s Note: Our very talented Bob Bertram did the heavy lifting as far as putting together the map of the proposed project.

DNREC’S SWAT (Swans Were A Threat) Team

Kudos to Coastal Point for bringing your readers to the attention of the killing of mute swans on White’s Creek.

With all due respect. I take exception to the flawed statements made by Rob Hossler of DNREC. Clearly a CYA effort.

I have no desire of becoming involved in a “spitting contest” with DNREC. In my opinion, they would be well served by simply stepping up and saying they made a mistake and it will not happen again.

I can tell your readers that were it not for the intervention of Rep. Gerald Hocker, the two collared swans would not be alive today. Rep. Hocker went to bat for us then, and I feel confident that, had he known of the plans by DNREC, the two that were killed might very well be alive today.

I find it ironic that in 1631 the first settlement in Delaware, Zwaanendael – the Dutch spelling for “Swan Valley” – was established. Prior to the existence of DNREC.

Gary Clevenger

OVPD gets recognition from resident

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

My wife and I wish to commend one of your officers who answered a call to our home … in Savannah’s Landing. Last Sunday night, Officer Ballentine rescued our elderly dog off the ice in Heron Lake behind our home. Mickey apparently wandered down the bank onto the frozen pond and couldn’t get back. He finally slipped and didn’t have the strength to pull himself up.

Officer Ballentine was able to rescue Mickey within a very short time. We wanted to bring his excellent service to your attention and once again express our gratitude for his fine and cheerful rescue. While this wasn’t a classic emergency, we appreciate Officer Ballentine’s quick response and quick thinking. I’m sure Mickey appreciated it, too.

Thanks again to your department and Officer Ballentine.

Daniel R. Goodemote
Ocean View

Candidate emerges for mayoral race

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the citizens of the Town of Ocean View and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

Several weeks ago, I read a letter to the editor in the Wave and Coastal Point, “Wanted a candidate to challenge Mayor Wood.” As I read the article, I realized that a number of the issues made sense to me. The Town of Ocean View once again is on a path of tax, tax, tax and spend, spend, spend, and it only gets worse.

The fact is Mayor Wood has overseen tax increases over the last two years and is looking to increase your taxes an additional 45 percent over the next five years. This is a man who campaigned promising that he would not vote to raise your taxes but would instead find ways to cut costs. Has he lived up to that campaign promise in the three years he has been in office?

Just recently, Mayor Wood voted to retain our part-time police officer as a permanent part-time officer. He has also hired an additional full-time officer who is currently completing his training in New Castle County Police Academy. This decision will cost Ocean View over $400,000 over the next five years and over $1 million over the next 10 years. This additional officer was not required for Ocean View to maintain 24/7 protection.

Unfortunately, in this less-ideal economy, we cannot afford to hire additional personnel at this time. According to our long-term budget forecast, if we continue down the current path, we will be facing 8 percent tax hikes over the next five years and beyond.

As it is now, we spend $1.20 for every $1 the Town brings in. We can no longer depend on transfer taxes to pay or supplement our expenditures. We need to look at real cost-cutting measures to balance our budget, something that Mayor Wood has failed to implement over the past three years.

Another example of our out-of-control spending will likely follow Mayor Wood’s recently signed lease agreement with the Freeman Foundation for a $1-per-year lease of land for the next 40 years. I commend Mayor Wood for obtaining a site for the new public works building, but the existing plans for construction of the new building are estimated at $350,000, making this another overpriced project that the town just can’t afford at this time.

A more reasonable approach would be to erect a steel building at half the cost. Do we really need a building that can “withstand gale-force winds,” as recommended? I think we need to carefully analyze what is essential and what is not. We do not want to repeat the mistakes made by the prior town council in building the over-“sized” public safety building.
Last but not least, this concept of sharing our police force with the Town of Millville makes no sense at all. Yes, the mayor’s plan, which he strongly supports, would benefit the Town of Millville, but it will also take away from services provided to and paid for by Ocean View taxpayers.

The quoted price of $119 per hour for our officers to patrol Millville is grossly underestimated, thus the overall cost to Ocean View taxpayers will be much greater. Any additional officer we hire will cost approximately $85,000 per year and will increase every year thereafter.

Bottom line: Ocean View residents would be subsidizing police protection of Millville residents. It would result in less protection for Ocean View residents and would be a bad deal for the citizens of Ocean View.

For the past six years, I have attended town council meetings as a part of a silent majority of concerned and intelligent property owners and have observed how they spent my and your tax dollars on overpriced projects. I urge the heretofore silent majority to end their silence and come forward to voice their concerns and join me to address the issues I see before the town.
I have decided not to sit as a spectator any longer but to make the effort to have a voice on the town council as mayor. I therefore announce my candidacy for mayor for the Town of Ocean View, a voice for financial responsibility! And I promise to keep this pledge to the taxpayers of Ocean View if I am elected.

I know that many Ocean View residents do not know me yet, but I am committed to visiting every community to discuss my concerns and seek your input so that I can serve as a mayor who represents the interests and concerns of the majority of residents. Please let me hear from you and please come out to vote in our election on April 9, 2011. The future financial security of our town is critical, and I want to protect that for the citizens of Ocean View.

George M. Pickrell, Candidate for Mayor
Ocean View

Reader takes exception with DNREC
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC’s) Division of Fish and Wildlife and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

How sad to read the heartless decision to shoot and kill the swan couple on White’s Creek. What an outrageous and cowardly decision because your officers received two complaints. All the homes and folks on the creek, and it only took two complaints to destroy wildlife. It appears it is just lazy and too easy to destroy, rather than to work on more feasible solutions.

These beautiful waterfowl were such an enjoyment. They were a source of education for children. I often stood on the pier with kids, talking about the swans, ducks, geese, etc. Now I can try to explain the so-called reason a government agency shot and killed them.

God forbid someone catch a bit undersized fish or crab to feel the wrath of your office. Yet, this awful, senseless killing of wonderful birds is OK?

I am beyond saddened for this loss. I am highly disappointed with DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Eileen Hargrove

Mitchell announces he’ll seek another term

I am announcing my candidacy for reelection for Ocean View councilman.

My campaign theme will be smaller government and no increase of our taxes. When I campaigned in 2008, I ran on true fiscal responsibility and you elected me to office. Fiscal responsibility means not living beyond your means. I thank you for your continuing support during these last three years.

This Council has presided over runaway budgets and an increase of taxes of 24 percent for the last three years and now proposes a budget for future tax increases for the next eight years of 64 percent or more if you take into account compounding. Enough is enough!

In 2009, I submitted an “alternative budget” during the budget process, proposing no tax increases, with reasonable savings from expenditure cuts.

I remember the Coastal Point wrote an editorial publicizing my proposal, saying that I was “trying.” Well, in spite of that editorial, that Council preferred to tax you rather than find reasonable savings.

My 2009 budget proposed the elimination of one position and reasonable savings. Strangely, the only Council member voting with me was Mr. Wichmann. He knew that there was a lot of loose money in the budget, some of which was in trust funds, and that we did not need these additional taxes. A copy of my alternative 2009 and 2012 budgets will be posted on my re-election Web site: http://ovcouncilman.blogspot.com.

This Council has endorsed a police staffing study requested by the police department, calling for an additional police officer, which will raise our taxes higher! I voted against this position when the council approved of it. My alternative budget called for one less position, but I believe the public safety department can manage 24/7 very well with 7.5 officers.
No doubt these savings will require sacrifice by our town employees, but I believe that they are reasonable savings and justified by our depressed local economy and the principle of true fiscal responsibility. And I don’t believe that these savings will require any cuts to town services.

I ask the voters of Ocean View to rally in support of my alternative budget. Call or write your councilman to support this alternative budget.

As always, I am humbled and appreciative of your support. See you at the polls on April 9.

Perry J. Mitchell
Ocean View councilman

MOAA grateful for support with event

On behalf of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Southern Delaware Chapter, we wish to convey our gratitude to DiFebo’s restaurant, located on Route 26, Bethany Beach, for the Nov. 14, 2010, “Cooking for a Cause” dedicated to PFC “Bo” Darlington, United States Army, and a 2009 Cape Henlopen High School graduate, who was seriously wounded during combat operations in Afghanistan in 2010. All proceeds collected were donated to his family.

Thanks is extended to Mrs. Kathy Townsend of Di Febo’s for her assistance in making this event successful.

MOAA also extends their gratitude to the following local business owners for their providing contributions to this worthy cause: Michael McCarthy Stones, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Applebee’s restaurant (Rehoboth), Gerald Hocker, Harris Teeter, Miller Creek Antiques, Cottage Café, DiFebo’s (separate donation).

Our thanks also to MOAA members in attendance and the many dinner visitors who were very supportive of our fundraising efforts.

MOAA extends a special thanks to VFW Mason-Dixon Post 7234 for their generous donation to PFC Darlington. Included in their effort was a special VFW Post dinner where all proceeds were donated to his family.

Our Armed Forces members are performing their duty bravely and making many sacrifices so that we may enjoy our freedoms on a daily basis. We must continue to recognize their sacrifices and continue to provide our unswerving support.

Thanks to all Americans for the support of our nation’s active duty members, reservists and veterans.

Capt. Richard A. Pfeil, USNR (ret.)
Military Officers Association of America