Letters to the Editor --January 21, 2011

The hospice volunteer – My gift is myself

In July 2009, when my manager asked me to help the volunteer coordinator at Compassionate Care Hospice, I jumped at the opportunity! For me this was the chance to change course in my career as a nurse and expand my horizons. I admired and loved our volunteer coordinator, Felicity, and knew she was battling a life-limiting disease. What I did not know was how much I would learn from her and how very gratifying this work would be. I am forever indebted to Felicity for the gift of herself.

“Hospice,” a word that has the same root as “hospitality,” can be traced back to medieval times. It referred to a place of shelter and rest for weary and ill travelers on a long journey. A model for quality and compassionate care for people walking the path of a life-limiting illness, hospice presents a team approach with care and support of nurses, social workers, chaplains, personal care aides and medical director. Another vital member of the Compassionate Care Hospice team is the volunteer. Interestingly, many hospice programs started with an all-volunteer staff and today they continue to be an essential part of the hospice program.

Hospice volunteers must undergo a mandated training program. One of the resources used by Compassionate Care Hospice in training volunteers is a textbook by Joanne Chitwood Nowack, RN, titled “My Gift: Myself.” What an appropriate title for a book that provides a guide to becoming a hospice volunteer, volunteers who do indeed give the gift of themselves!

People who decide to become volunteers for Compassionate Care Hospice come from a variety of backgrounds and are inspired by a variety of reasons. Questions one might ask is: What brings you to Compassionate Care? Why volunteer? Why Hospice? One of our volunteers, Mary Greenaker, pondered these questions and joined our volunteer training class in October, 2009. A native of Leroy, N.Y., Mary lives in Oneonta, N.Y. and spends the winter months in Dewey Beach. She retired in 2007 after a 30-year career as an X-ray technologist. Although she did not miss the day-to-day routine of going to work, Mary did miss the contact with patients, which she found very rewarding. Mary states, “I loved talking to people and felt fulfilled at the end of the day. If I could allay a patient’s fears, if I could make one person smile, that was priceless!” Since her mom had been a hospice patient, Mary had some idea of what the program offered. She remembered, too, that her dad was so grateful to the volunteer who visited her mom, just to sit with her, so dad had time to do something for himself.

Mary has spent many hours with Compassionate Care Hospice patients. She admits, “I am a better listener than talker and I have found that most patients just want someone to listen to their fears and concerns without really wanting a solution.

“Our patients find it easy to talk to a volunteer because the volunteer has no agenda, and can be objective.” Mary observed that after the first visit, she is no longer a stranger to the patient. “It’s all about building relationships and trust!”

Our volunteers all agree that being a hospice volunteer has given each of them so much more than they could have ever imagined. Mary concurs! “It is so amazing,” she muses, and “that one tiny act of kindness means so much to our patients. Whether it is running errands, sitting and talking, looking through photo albums or just being with them, there is nothing like the feeling that you have done something good and made someone happy.” My heart swells with love for the patient and satisfaction, too, knowing that just one teeny, tiny thing that I do, may give a person great joy, especially at this fragile and uncertain time of life.”

Mary, like all of the volunteers at Compassionate Care Hospice has lovingly given the gift of herself to her patients and their families, and for this we are very grateful.

Come join us! Hold a hand, read a book, pat a shoulder, change a life… maybe yours!

For more information about becoming a volunteer (and giving the gift of yourself!), please call Nicole Meringolo at (302) 934-5900. Our patients are waiting.

Nicole Meringolo, BSN, RN

BBLA weighs in on cell tower
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the Bethany Beach Town Council and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication:

On Dec. 15, 2010, AT&T filed a new application to install a 100-foot cell tower behind the BP gas station and Arby’s restaurant just outside our town but less than 200 feet from several Bethany Beach homes. A hearing on the application is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 7, 2011, in the County Council Chambers, at the County Administrative Office Building, in Georgetown.

We urge the Town Council members to attend this hearing and to speak out forcefully against this application, which, if granted, would create appalling new visual clutter in our community. Even more importantly, we urge the Council to take action before the Feb. 7 hearing that could, as explained below, go a long way toward assuring that the application will be denied.

As matters now stand, AT&T is likely to win approval of that application. The court decision overturning the grant of the 2009 AT&T application was based on procedural mistakes that the Sussex County Board of Adjustment (“BoA”) is not likely to repeat this time.

There are two substantive issued that AT&T must prevail upon to win a new approval: (1) Is there any exiting structure available to AT&T within two air miles of the proposed site that would serve as a suitable alternative to the proposed new tower, and (2) Would the new tower adversely affect the value of nearby homes.

The facts bearing on the first issue have not changed since AT&T prevailed on that issue following the September 2009 BoA hearing. On the second issue, this time opponents of the tower will have an expert study supporting their claim of injury to property values. But AT&T will have its own expert study or studies purporting to show there will be no injury.

No one can predict with certainty whose experts the BoA will find more persuasive. But the BoA so far has a strong inclination to rule in the company’s favor, not only by the BoA’s rulings in 2009, but also by their apparent intention to allow AT&T to leave its temporary 40-foot pole in place on the site while the new application is pending. Further, any court reviewing the matter is likely to defer to the BoA resolution of a factual issue on which the evidence is conflicting.

The Town Council can and should dramatically alter this bleak outlook. It can do this simply by extending an offer to AT&T to make the Town’s water tower available as an alternative structure for the placement of its cell phone transmitters, subject to negotiation of a lease containing appropriate terms and conditions. That offer, even if it is rejected by AT&T, will give opponents of the tower a strong basis for arguing in the Feb. 7 hearing that, unlike the situation in 2009, a suitable existing structure within two air miles is now available to AT&T.

In the 2009 hearing, AT&T conceded that the water tower was a suitable alternative structure but argued it was unavailable because the Town had rejected or not responded to various AT&T requests to negotiate over use of the water tower, including an April 2008 AT&T offer in which the company proposed to pay the Town more than $656,000 over 25 years.

The water tower certainly is an existing structure within the meaning of the applicable county law. Indeed, our water tower is already being used for radio communications purposes; radio transmitters were mounted on the water tower by and for the use of the Town government some time ago.

If the BoA grants AT&T’s new application despite an offer by the Town to make the water tower available (and assuming that new BoA decision is not reversed in court), the tall tower will no doubt be promptly constructed to the dismay and probable anger of many local landowners in Bethany Beach. But at least the Council would be able to say that, by offering to make the water tower available to AT&T, the Council did all it reasonably could to prevent the creation of this new eyesore.

Conversely, if the Council does not offer to make the water tower available before the Feb. 7 hearing, the Council opens itself to the criticism that it failed to take a reasonable measure to protect the interests of its property owners.

But suppose the BoA denies the new application because of the Town’s offer. In that event, either AT&T will locate and propose to build a new tower on some other site more than two miles from our water tower (and farther from our town) or the company will change its mind and accept the Town’s offer to make the water tower available. Either way, the Town and its landowners win.

Of course, if AT&T elects to accept the offer to make the water tower available, the Town must negotiate in good faith with AT&T over the terms of an appropriate lease. But reaching a suitable agreement with T&T for use of the water tower involves potentially substantial income for the Town and no serious downside.

Thousand of communities across the country have permitted the installation of cellular equipment on their water towers for many years without suffering any reported ill effects and earning substantial revenue to boot. Verizon is paying $2,500 per month for use of the water tower serving South Bethany, and the town manager in that community reports that the arrangement is working quite well for all concerned.

If AT&T would agree to pay $2,500 per month initially for the use of our water tower and to the periodic adjustments AT&T proposed in April 2008, the Town would earn well in excess of a million dollars over a 25-year lease period. Skillful negotiators for the Town can perhaps do even better.

Security concerns can and should be addressed through adequate lease provisions. Expert consultants can be retained by the Town for advice on such lease provisions and AT&T can be required to reimburse the Town of those consultant’s fees.

Further, the lease can and should provide that the Town may cancel the lease upon reasonable notice if the Town concludes that a new water tower or new water treatment facilities need to be erected that are incompatible with AT&T’s continued use of the site.

Recently, the Council agreed to spend well over a million dollars to move the utility poles off two blocks of Garfield Parkway, and thereby remove what some perceive to be a serious eyesore. Many of our members feel that expense was not wise, especially in these difficult economic times. Be that as it may, now we are faced with the prospect of a new and at least as serious eyesore in the form of a 100-foot tower on the south edge of town.

The Council can take a step toward preventing construction of that new eyesore, not merely without spending any money to do so but with the potential of earning a substantial amount of rental income. Failing to take that step would be widely perceived as a serious disservice to our community.

Time is short. To be effective, an offer by the Town to make the water tower available to AT&T must be made before the Feb. 7 hearing. Fortunately, the Council has a workshop scheduled for Jan. 20 and a regular council meeting for Jan. 21. We urge the Council to take up this important matter at one or both of those sessions, and to accept public input on whether to offer to make the water tower available as outlined above.

John Himmelberg, President
Bethany Beach Landowners Association

Councilman wants opposition for mayor

Ocean View elections are coming in April. Mr. Gordon Wood has announced recently that he will run for reelection for mayor. Voters need to review his record to determine whether he should be reelected.

Mayor Wood has presided over runaway budgets and an increase of taxes of 40 percent over five years and more over six years.

In his 2008 campaign flyer, he said, “I commit. I will not vote to raise taxes – ever – unless I am personally convinced that there are no acceptable alternatives. All options are open for study.” Well, there are acceptable alternatives, but Mayor Wood never considered them. Don’t be fooled by voting for this candidate again.

One alternative: I submitted an alternative budget on Feb. 20, 2009. I remember the Coastal Point wrote an editorial publicizing my proposal. Mayor Wood never supported my cost-cutting budget. The only council member supporting me was Mr. Wichmann.

So, Mayor Wood, there were fiscal alternatives out there, but you never considered nor supported them. So much for your promise of fiscal alternatives!

Wood has endorsed a police staffing study produced by the police department, calling for a new additional police officer. It that controlling costs? We have more than adequate police staffing.

Wood has proposed a merger of our police department with Millville, which would certainly increase public safety costs. Sure, he has said that Millville will pay for them. But would we get full value?

Then he proposed selling Millville police patrol hours, while estimates would have never supported our true cost.

The mayor presides over the police department, but the only recommendations he brings us is to increase the police department and give us more police officers. Is that the kind of fiscal responsive mayor we want?

Then, there is the issue of our town manager leaving. Unless the Town becomes fortunate enough to hire a town manager with the expertise in grant writing and expertise in finding savings in efficiencies, we will experience increases in our budget. Also, hiring a new town manager will necessitate some additional costs for the Town. It was not good management on the mayor’s part to allow this to happen. Indirectly, this will lead to more costs. Did he have fiscal responsibility in mind when he did this?

With this letter, I am asking a qualified candidate to step up and run against the mayor. I will step aside if a qualified candidate is found. Ocean View can do better and we will have a mayor who puts the interests of its citizens first. The filing date is Feb. 23, and so you will have to act quickly.

Perry J. Mitchell, Councilman
Ocean View

Reader gets rescued in time of need

I hope to inform readers of this letter that all companies we deal with are not caring about faithful customers. My oil company of over 20 years left me without heat after their service man informed me my furnace could not be fixed and would have to be replaced. This on Friday, Jan. 8, about 5 p.m., with my home already very cold.

I told him I am a very senior person, alone with family far away, and asked if they could put a new one in soon because snow and cold were predicted for Saturday, Jan. 9, and Sunday, Jan. 10. He made a call and was told they could do nothing before Monday or Tuesday, and suggested I stay somewhere else over the weekend. He left!

This was about 6 p.m. Friday evening. I was afraid my pipes would freeze, so I let many of my spigots dripping and, feeling upset and cold, I bundled up under covers and quilts and spent a very uncomfortable Friday night.

Very early Saturday morning, I told a friend about my situation. He said he would get me some help; he called Top Notch Heating & Air Conditioning. I spoke with a very understanding person, and he told me to expect him to be here and take care of getting me warm.

He arrived in about 35 minutes. With him, he brought heaters to warm a few rooms while he measured everything, told me all the details and left to get a new furnace. In an hour or two, a new furnace arrived, with three great guys who took over immediately, and I had a warm house by Saturday, Jan. 9, in the afternoon.

Thank you, Top Notch Heating and Air Conditioning. You really are “Top Notch”!

Neva O’Hara
Ocean View

Ocean Farms resident discusses roadway

The roadway improvement program for Ocean Farms is starting out on the wrong foot.

The indication that a “vote” was taken to choose between a 10- or 15-year payback is misleading. The meeting held was presented to the homeowners as an “informational” meeting so that we could hear about the options that might be available through the Sussex County Engineering Department for road repair.

Options were presented and, after that, the County asked for a vote on the 10- or 15-year payback issue. County regulations allow their issues to be resolved by a “majority of those voting” – one vote over 50 percent.

The 10-year payback received the one vote over 50 percent of those present. However, the Ocean Farms Homeowners Association bylaws require a quorum of homeowners be present for voting on issues impacting the development. There was no quorum present for the vote.

I do not believe county rules on voting can circumvent filed association bylaws and regulations; therefore, the 10-year selection is invalid.

I advised the president of our association of that at the time of the meeting and later in an e-mail, and asked him to advise the county of the issue. If a selection of 10- or 15-year payback is needed, a meeting of the homeowners association needs to be scheduled, then a quorum must be present to vote before the issue can move forward with the County.

The reality here is that this issue is trying to be initiated by a few within the homeowners association and that they are trying to circumvent the rules of the association by using County rules as the standards. This is not fair to the County or the homeowners.

Lou Scrivani
Ocean Farms

Mayor thankful for local hospitality

I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Richard and Susan Bloch for their generosity in hosting a live show at the Dickens’s Parlour Theatre for the Millville Volunteer Group. It certainly was a night of magic, followed by desserts and beverages. It is rare that a small town like Millville can enjoy a live professional theater to add to the uniqueness of our town. Best wishes to Rich and Susan and the Dickens’s Parlour Theatre.

Mayor Don Minyon