Letters to the Editor -- November 6, 2009

FOSCL not interested in taking over library

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the five members of the Sussex County Council, was copied to County Administrator David Baker; Sussex County Libraries Director Carol Fitzgerald; Dennis J. Hughes, president, Friends of the Milton Library and Elaine Rifenburg, president, Friends of the Greenwood Library; and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

In August, during a County Council meeting, a report on library funding was given. During that discussion, a suggestion was made by some Council members that the South Coastal Library should become an independent library rather than continuing as a county library. The library would be turned over to the Friends of the South Coastal Library (FOSCL) for management and operations.

FOSCL first learned of this through an article that appeared in a local newspaper.

The FOSCL Board of Directors met on Oct. 27 to discuss this suggestion and the Board feels that it is essential that Sussex County continue to fund and support South Coastal as a county library.

While the Friends’ Capital Campaign conducted 2005-2009 raised over $2.25 million to help with the construction of the renovated and expanded library, those donations were restricted for that project only. FOSCL, and the community it serves, cannot possibly be expected to support that level of fundraising on an annual basis.

FOSCL traditionally raises about $125,000 each year to enhance the library’s services and programs offered through county and state funds. A recent article in the Business Section of the Washington Post newspaper stated that non-profit organizations are seeing a dramatic 40 to 50 percent reduction in donations this year, and anyone involved in fundraising efforts will agree that it is increasingly difficult to raise funding for various causes.

FOSCL feels that it is essential that Sussex County continue to finance the South Coastal Library as a county library in order to maintain:

• the quality of services offered;

• the quality and training of the library staff;

• the cost savings through bulk purchasing of supplies, equipment and services;

• the consistency of services;

• the reliability of staff and services;

• the level of salaries and benefits to attract qualified staff;

• the hours of operation;

• the computer services available to the public;

• the variety of resources utilized by young to seniors;

• the strength of the collections; and

• the maintenance of the building and grounds of the new facility.

Our library staff could bombard you with program and user statistics that demonstrate the growing usage of the South Coastal Library over the past few years and would be happy to do so if you wish.

Just a few examples: this summer we had 292 children and 48 teens join the Summer Reading Program. The adult computer classes and genealogy computer classes fill as quickly as we post them. Our patron visits continue to climb, even during the off season. The Joshua M. Freeman Cultural Center is booked nearly every day and evening with community programs and meetings.

We look at this library as an excellent community resource to the area. FOSCL works hard each year to provide additional funding to enhance programs and services provided by Sussex County, however, we are certainly not in a position, nor do we wish to be, to take over the management and operations of this library.

The Friends of the South Coastal Library strongly urges the Sussex County Council to continue to finance and support the library as a county library.

Board of Directors of the Friends of the South Coastal Library
Faith Denault, President

Coastal-Georgetown AAUW thanks merchants

The Coastal-Georgetown AAUW would like to thank those who supported our fall scholarship fundraiser at the Rusty Rudder. We would especially like to thank the following businesses who contributed the many prizes for our fundraiser: 1776 Restaurant, Bad Hair Day?, Bethany Blues, Browseabout Books, Confucius Chinese Cuisine, The Greene Turtle, Grotto Pizza, Lotus Spa, Mariachi Restaurant, Monograms Unlimited-Vera Bradley, Nage, Rehoboth Yoga and Twila Farrell Fashions.

The C-G AAUW awards two scholarships annually. One scholarship is awarded to a female graduate of one of the following high schools: Cape Henlopen, Sussex Central, Sussex Tech or Indian River, and another scholarship is awarded to a female recipient of an AA degree from Del Tech’s Owens Campus who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university.

Marty Johnson, President
Coastal-Georgetown AAUW

Lewes Farmers Market thankful for season

The Historic Lewes Farmers Market would like to thank the entire community for making our fourth market season so successful. We are especially grateful to each of you who volunteered, shopped at the market, watched a demonstration, brought a child to the Lewes Public Library Reading Hour at the Market, helped set up and take down tents and tables, read the newsletter, entered the recipe contest for the Tomato Festival, bought a book or a bag to support the Market, and helped in many other ways.

We would like to thank Mike Di Paolo and the Lewes Historical Society for welcoming us to the grounds of the complex and making the School House available for the children’s reading hour at the Market.

Thank you to Mayor Ford and the City Council for their support of the Market and their partnering with us on “green” initiatives during the season. Councilman Becker has our special thanks for his weekly “trash talks” and continuing efforts to sign folks up for the city’s recycling program.

Much appreciation to Ed Kee, Delaware Secretary of Agriculture; Kelli Steele, Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) Marketing Communications Officer; and the DDA staff for all their support.

We especially want to thank and recognize the many local business owners, restaurant owners, master gardeners and “green” organizations who have partnered with us to bring fun and informative demonstrations and workshops to the Market each week.

Four years have passed since the Historic Lewes Farmers Market opened. This year, we had more than 35 vendors and are proud that our Market remains dedicated to farmers and their produce. The vendors make the Market, and we owe them a huge thank-you for their tireless efforts to bring such wonderful food each and every week.

Our Market is run by an exceptionally dedicated group of more 200 volunteers who help us in various capacities, as well as a hard-working board of directors who manage this nonprofit organization.

We have developed an e-mail list of more than 3,000 names, a Web site and a brochure that inform the community about the Market. An informative newsletter is e-mailed weekly during the market season and monthly during the off-season to keep our readers informed about issues of interest, Market news and HLFM events. We hope you will take a look at our Web site, www.historiclewesfarmersmarket.org, where you will find information and links to other community and national organizations and resources.

Our goal is to continue to educate the public on the importance of fresh local produce, sustainable agricultural practices and issues of national interest concerning farming and the food we eat. Here are a few of our other projects:

• The Market gleans (collects donations of extra produce) from the vendors at the end of each market, then organizes and donates the excess produce to Casa San Francisco in Milton – a charity which runs a “brown-bag food cooperative” and an “emergency food pantry” as just a part of its mission. This season, Casa San Francisco received more than $2,800 worth of produce from this program.

• We provide six scholarships to farmers in the Delmarva to attend the PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) Farming for the Future conferences. This diverse event brings together over 2,000 farmers, market managers, processors, consumers, students, business, and community people annually, all dedicated to creating sustainable food systems.

• We were happy once again to partner with the Lewes Public Library to create a children’s story time at the Market featuring titles that educate children on the importance of good stewardship of the land and water around us. A special tip-of-the-hat to children’s librarian, Maureen Miller, for making this an exciting event for kids every Saturday.

• The Market continued to work with staff at the Sussex Consortium to help students develop an organic garden and to sell the harvest from that garden at the Historic Lewes Farmers Market.

• This year we started a special partnership with Shields Elementary School to help create organic, raised-bed student gardens at the school. The garden ties into the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Children’s Health) and Science programs at Shields. We hope to continue this partnership and help “grow” these gardens in 2010. Special thanks to principal, Dr. Patricia Magee, for her leadership in using these gardens to help teach healthy lifestyles through good food choices and for teaching kids how to grow sustainably.

We are committed to using all the money we raise within the community. We pay weekly rent to the Lewes Historical Society. We subsidize the market’s expenses enabling the farmers to keep all but 5 percent of what they earn each week, and most of that 5 percent goes to advertising the Market. Our Web site and brochures are marketing tools that not only support the Market but bring more people to Lewes. Hundreds of people come into Lewes each Saturday, not only to shop at the Market, but also to visit the shops and businesses of Lewes.

Most importantly, we believe that a successful market builds community. Every Saturday during the market season, we provide a meeting place for the community of Lewes.

Thank you all for your continued support, and we look forward to seeing you in May 2010, when we open for our fifth season.

The Board of Directors of the Historic Lewes Farmers Market

Reader weighs in on cell phone tower

Thank you for your recent coverage of the attempt by AT&T to have an exception for the use of the property on Route 1 where Pep-Up gas station and Arby’s are now situated. AT&T has suggested that a 100-foot cell phone tower be erected on this gas station site.

As an owner of a unit in Sea Pines Village, I am very concerned that the tower may slip through because the public is not aware enough to protest and object.

Your paper has covered many of the concerns residential property owners have expressed:

• Lack of notification to property owners close to the proposed tower. About 10 close commercial sites were notified, but none of the 46 residential unit owners at Sea Pines Village were notified. Nor was the management company notified.

• Tower is proposed on a site where there are underground gas tanks and a retention pond. If you are advised not to use a cell phone while pumping gas, why would you want a cell phone tower built within 50 yards of underground gas tanks and people pumping gas? Overflow from the retention pond is a constant problem along the back fence between Pep-Up gas station/Arby’s and Sea Pines.

• Constant humming notice from the tower, as well as possible noise from nighttime maintenance and/or repairs interrupting sleep is a concern.

• Unknown health issues with a tower so close to a dense residential area where people are living 24 hours a day is another concern.

• Most of the units are rental properties. Many have the same renters returning year after year. Prospective renters may look in Dewey or Fenwick rather than Bethany Beach as that tower will be visible from Holiday Express; Sea Colony Sea Vistas, Sea Pines Village, Summer Place, etc.

I appreciate your paper following this issue, particularly since it has been ignored by other local papers. I hope that your paper will follow this issue through the Nov. 2, 2009, Sussex County Board of Adjustment meeting where the “special-use exception” is being considered.

It is of interest that:

• AT&T only refers to the Arby’s as the site. The gas station is never mentioned.

• The initial public notification sign of the meeting regarding the proposed cell phone tower was not placed on that property, but an adjacent property.

• Residential owners in the surrounding area were not notified.

• This request was made in the fall, after the summer season, when many owners are not present and do not have access to the local newspapers.

• The original notice of the intent did not appear in the papers local to Bethany Beach, but rather than in a paper that services the Georgetown area.

Please continue your good work in informing the public of issues of importance and interest to them.

Barbara R. McNally

Mitchell determined to fix town’s budget

At the last town meeting, I announced that I would form a committee to advise me on the Ocean View budget for the next fiscal year. Let me be clear that my appointment of these individuals is not an official town action. It is a personal action that I am taking as a councilman to receive the best advice on our budget problems and making that advice publicly known.

This was an idea that I broached several months ago, if the Town did not follow through with the continuation of the Long Range Financial Committee.

Regrettably, the Council did not decide to continue this very useful committee, which has been in existence for the last five years. This Council action will allow limited exposure to budget details, which I believe that every tax payer has the right to know as much as they chose to know about their fiscal health of their government and how the Town spends the taxpayer’s money. Their action was an attempt to sideline key experts from the LRFC and rob us of their expertise on the budget.

My action, hopefully, will bring some of the budget details out into the public light and bring that expertise from the prior LRFC to bear on our town budget problems. I will appoint five individuals from last year’s LRFC to gain their expertise.

My early impressions of our budget health for the next several years are not positive. Without sounding any alarms, the Town must exercise budget prudence and fiscal restraint in making its future budget decisions. My conversations with the real estate community indicate transfer fee revenue will be stagnant for this next fiscal year and possibly the following fiscal year. This revenue has been an important source of revenue for the town in the past.

We already know that the Town has lost its roads grants (MSA) from the State this year, and the talk is that it may be permanent loss. This alone represents a big fiscal hole in our budget and will be a continuing fiscal problem for the future. Where do we get the money to finance our continuing road maintenance?

It will take the best minds and expertise to find a path out of this fiscal thicket, and that is what I intend to do.

Perry J. Mitchell, Councilman
Ocean View

Ryan offers her thoughts on health care reform

For 100 years, we have been debating and rejecting health care reform initiatives authored by both Republican and Democratic administrations. The debate continues.

On the eve of the vote in the Senate Finance Committee, the insurance industry, hitherto considered an ally on reform, threw a curveball into the debate with a report that the Baucus bill would result in higher premiums. Ironically, on the same day, an insurer was denied coverage to an otherwise healthy baby because he was too big – a decision that was revoked after adverse publicity. Just recently, an insurer decided to cancel coverage for a man with multiple sclerosis, dependent on home nursing care, because his case was a “dog,” a decision that was also reversed after adverse publicity.

No doubt, these cases, which graphically demonstrate what is wrong with the system, would not have surfaced were it not for the scrutiny being given to the health care debate and the insurance industry’s role in health care delivery. But these are not isolated cases. What gave impetus to reform this time were the scores of heartbreaking stories that have emerged of people coping with denials of care, cancellation of policies and loss of coverage when jobs were lost.

At the heart of this debate are the 45,000 people who die each year because they cannot afford to see a doctor and the 700,000 who are forced into bankruptcy because of catastrophic medical bills. The uninsured treat emergency rooms as their primary care providers, the costs of which adds about $1,000 to family insurance premiums.

Costs of medical care are increasing between 10 and 20 percent per year. Why? In part because in many states, insurers essentially have a monopoly and their practices are not subject to robust public scrutiny. They are insulated from legal challenge by a patchwork quilt of state regulations and protected from antitrust oversight by federal law. People in Wyoming, Alabama, Illinois or Delaware have no guarantee of access to the same choices.

In the end, what we have is a health care system that is allowed to discriminate against people simply because they are sick.

America really does not have a choice this time. Health care must be reformed. Consumers should be given the same choices as to the level of risk they wish to take in selecting insurance coverage or the doctors they want without regard to where they live. And everyone should be covered with some level of health care protection. We have mandatory automobile insurance. Surely, sick people are more important than cars.

A public option, as a matter of choice, would level the playing field for consumers. The American Medical Association reported that 73 percent of doctors surveyed support a public option. The option would introduce competition into an otherwise fractured system and provide a market incentive for the industry – insurers and medical professionals alike – to meet the competition generated by a public option. Competition in other sectors of our economy is valued as a force that gives rise to innovations, cost efficiencies and choices. So why not in the health care industry?

Providing a choice will not lead to government takeover of our health care system, as some of the fear mongers are alleging. It will, however, go a long way to solving some of the major deficiencies of existing health care system.

Mary K. “Kay” Ryan
Ocean View