Letters to the Editor -- June 5, 2009

Wind supporter stands up to criticism

Mr. Dave Metzger wrote a letter to this publication referencing the Sussex County Board of Adjustments hearing to allow a residential wind turbine in the community of Quillen’s Point. His letter unfortunately contained erroneous information about this project in particular and wind power in general. As an individual who is employed in this fast-growing and critically important sector of our economy, I feel it is necessary to correct these all too common misconceptions.

Mr. Metzger’s objections to the proposed turbine can be summed up in three points: they are noisy, they will block views and they are dangerous to birds. I will address each of these concerns in turn.

The National Audubon Society has conducted extensive studies on the subject of bird kills. Their conclusion? Less than 1 in 10,000 human-caused bird deaths result from collision with wind turbines. Birds naturally avoid visible obstacles in their flight path. A multiyear study of over 12,600 North American industrial size wind turbines was able to document only 194 avian fatalities. Compare this to the United State’s 900 million plus annual bird deaths from collision with windows (which are invisible to birds).

The bottom line, the National Audubon Society Headquarters buys all of its power from a regional wind farm. These bird lovers are clearly in favor of wind energy. (Results of this study are available online at: www.currykerlinger.com/windpower.htm).

The Skystream 3.7 wind turbine proposed for Quillen’s Point would be mounted on a 33-foot pole. The total surface area of the blades is less than that of a flag. Height limitations in the community are 42 feet. The homeowner, who was applying for a variance, has graciously kept the height of his home at a modest 28 feet, allowing his neighbors a view of the bay. Compare this to Mr. Metzger’s home, a veritable wall of 60 feet wide by 42 feet tall. Which home blocks the neighborhood views more?

Noise is an issue often raised in connection with wind turbines. The NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, www.nrel.gov) has conducted extensive studies on various wind turbines noise output. The NREL has rated the noise output of a Skystream 3.7 at 47 decibels (DB) at the base of the turbine. Compare this to 70 decibels for an average air-conditioning unit, 57 decibels for an average conversation of 55 decibels for an average refrigerator. It’s extremely unlikely that the proposed wind turbine would be audible to its nearest neighbors. Mr. Metzger’s droll image of the turbine being heard in Wilmington is clearly ludicrous.

If Mr. Metzger is truly concerned about noise pollution, bird health and the vistas of his neighbors, I have some suggestions for him. First, permanently shut down your AC unit (it is far noisier than a wind turbine). Second, remove all the windows from your home (they pose a far greater hazard to the ospreys). Third, cut the top 1.5 stories off of your house (they block your neighbor’s views far more than the proposed turbine).

In all seriousness, I wouldn’t expect Mr. Metzger or anyone else to take any of these steps. However, it is difficult to take his opposition to residential wind turbines seriously until he does.

Finally, Mr. Metzger objected to the presence of individuals “directly or indirectly associated with the would-be installer.” Sussex County Board of Adjustment hearings are open to all residents of Sussex County, not just inhabitants of the Quillen’s Point community. Six residents of Quillen’s Point came out in support of the proposed turbine while seven came out in opposition. A total of 13 individuals voted in favor of the turbine while seven voted against it.

I am one of those who supported the wind turbine. I don’t live in Quillen’s Point, but I do live in Ocean View, downwind of the Indian River coal-burning power plant. This year, two of my neighbors, both lifelong non-smokers, died of lung cancer. In his letter, Mr. Metzger alluded to the “power of the almighty dollar.” Everything has a cost, Mr. Metzger. The cost of your continued dependence on coal-fired power is paid in the lives and health of our fellow citizens.

Benjamin Farr
Ocean View

Writer wonders what happened to reps

It seems our two local “conservative” representatives, Joe Booth and John Atkins, are convinced that building a new horse track and casino in the heart of Sussex County is the way to go. A refresher course on true conservatism from Reps. Carey, Hocker and Wilson may be required.

Word has it that Rep. Booth will be the primary sponsor of legislation that would allow the Del Pointe Racino to be built. I have spoken at length to Reps. Booth and Atkins on the subject, without much success. Having been adamantly opposed to sports betting, Joe always returns to the mantra, “It wouldn’t be fair not to give them a casino, seeing as they already have permission for a horse track.” On his continued slide into liberalism, John always comes back with, “I’m just not convinced gambling is as detrimental to society as people think it is.”

The purpose of this letter, if published, is to ask the concerned citizens of the 37th and 41st districts and any other Delawareans to contact their representatives to voice their opinions. Knowing both of these men fairly well, I’m sure their minds will be swayed if enough voters were to take the time to contact them.

Although I have now resided in Georgetown for the last 15 years, I grew up in Millsboro. My parents, Bodie and Dolores, brought me there when I was 6. We moved when I was 17. Our house on 113 was wedged in between the Bullocks’ and the Bakers’. I went to church with families named Cordrey, Collins, Pusey, Batchelor, White, Hastings, Murray and Atkins. I went to school with children named Wharton, Mitchell, Keenan, Hudson, Thoroughgood, Phillips, Truitt, Lynch, Hickman, Lingo, Workman, Rust and O’Neal. I palled around with buddies named Betts, Jones, Lisehora, Murray, Daisey, Anderson, Serman, Pettyjohn and Stewart.

I am appealing to these families and all the unnamed others to find the time to contact their representatives. Back then, Millsboro was known for its mill ponds, where we swam and ice skated, Cupola Park and Big Thursday. All that still exists, but what will Millsboro be known for 10 years from now?

Generally speaking, when someone says they are off to Harrington and might swing over to Dover, you know they are out for a day of gambling. Soon, if the Schell boys get their way, we can add Millsboro to the circuit.

Is that what we want Millsboro to be known for? The argument goes that we must have the gambling to get the good, family-oriented stuff. To me, that argument is tantamount to saying we’ve got to have the brothel to get the church built. When I posed this to Rep. Atkins, he came right back with, “But prostitution is illegal!” to which I said, “So far.”

I am blue in the face with these so-called conservatives. Please give me a break and have at ’em. Joe can be phoned at 228-6786, mailed at 200 Garden Street, Georgetown, DE 19947 and e-mailed at Joseph.Booth@state.de.us. John is 745-1587, 236 Morris Street, Millsboro, DE 19966 and John.Atkins@state.de.us.

Someday, we will all have to give an account for the things we did or even neglected to do while on this earth. In return, some of us will hear “I never knew you.” Others will hear, “Come right on in,” and still others will hear, “Well done, my good and humble servant.” Which will be your fate?

Eric Bodenweiser

Reader: Gay families have less rights, money

Many people know that the Government Accountability Office has determined there are 1,138 rights that derive from federally recognized marriage – rights automatically accorded to straight married people but denied to gay couples.

Less known is that same-gender couples pay an average of $1,070 more in taxes per year. That’s because spousal healthcare benefits are taxed as income for gay couples but not for straight married couples.

Further, Social Security only grants survivor benefits if the couple was heterosexually wedded. Homosexuals are on their own, no matter how much they paid into Social Security over their lifetime. For gay couples, there is likewise no shield from estate taxes as there is for straight married couples.

All this is because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bans federal recognition of gay marriage, even in states where it is now legal. The bottom line? Gay families continue to lack the economic safety nets that straight families take for granted.

Marriage equality and gay equality generally are theoretical discussions for some. To me, they have specific numbers: 1,138 missing rights; 1,070 extra tax dollars per year; zero Social Security survivor benefits; zero shield from estate taxes.

Douglas Marshall-Steele

Bad reporting, unofficial comments impact issue

I realize this letter is to the wrong editor, and I will soon correct that.

I am writing in response to [Wednesday’s] article in another local paper regarding Ocean View and Millville interaction on public safety.

First, Ocean View has not proposed anything to Millville other than a willingness to respond to a request from Millville. Very specifically, with Council permission, I, the chief and the town manager met with Millville’s council to provide Ocean View budget data. We did not propose any thing to Millville. Permission was then obtained from the Ocean View Council to respond to Millville if Millville so requested.

Then what happened? Mr. [Ocean View Town Council Member Perry] Mitchell made a “courtesy call” to Millville on his own, which belies the reason for his “courtesy call.” Then, another local paper printed two pieces by an ex-councilman setting forth his personal views. I note this was the action of a private citizen, within his rights, but not the voice of the Ocean View Council. Nothing similar had been discussed in the Ocean View Council.

It was always understood any agreement would have to be fair to everyone.

Let me say again that the Ocean View Town Council has not voted on any resolution requiring Millville to pay one half of the joint police force. We very specifically decided by a 4-0 vote to respond to a request. We have never proposed council-approved numbers.

I recognize the well may be poisoned, and that is unfortunate. Mr. Mitchell’s visit, the op-ed pieces and conversations in public by a current councilman and others, including an ex-councilman, do not state council-approved policy.

Goodness, working with Ocean View and within Ocean View is not always easy. It would be much easier if everyone spoke with a council-approved voice.

Meanwhile, the other local paper article of June 3 is contradictory, has errors and doesn’t reflect what the Ocean View Council did.

I don’t know where the $600,000 annual cost came from! Ocean View has made no demands at this time, contrary to a statement in the article.

This was a good idea that would require a lot of good-faith conversation by respective town officials.

Gordon Wood, Mayor
Town of Ocean View

LSLL grateful for support of Hocker

The Lower Sussex Little League Board of Directors would like to extend their gratitude to Gerald Hocker for allowing Lower Sussex to host the 2009 Country Jamboree. The league would also like to thank all of the event’s sponsors and advertisers. Thank you again. These funds will greatly help our Little League program.

Lower Sussex Little League
Board of Directors

Billing town for services would be wrong

As a concerned citizen, I am writing to clarify the misconception of the residents of Ocean View and Millville regarding the Ocean View Police Department.

In many articles in the paper recently, it has been said the Ocean View Police cover Millville when called by Millville. I would like to point out that Millville is under the auspices of the State Police and the State Police are called when police service is needed in Millville. At times, the State Police call Ocean View police and have them respond to Millville.

In the recent article by Roy Thomas, he stated that “Ocean View deserves reimbursement for services” from Millville for the money expended on this service. Since any time expended in Millville by the Ocean View Police is due to calls from the State Police, any reimbursement should be coming from the state. Ocean View gets grants from the county toward their police expenses.

Stating from Mr. Thomas’s article, “Per the mayor, Ocean View had 87 calls to Millville last year.” It would be interesting to know how many of these calls were actually within the town limits of Millville and not just a mailing address.

I know that the State Police have contacted Ocean View to answer calls in other areas not in Millville, such as mailing addresses of Frankford that are not within the town limits of Frankford. Why not bill all towns that benefit from the calls from the State Police when they call Ocean View to respond, or is only Millville targeted by Mr. Thomas?

The fact that Millville has a reserve toward starting their own police force does not give rise to Ocean View trying to get some of that money because Ocean View is looking at a 50 percent rise in taxes over the next five years.

Mr. Thomas stated that the amount for 2007-2009 could be as high as $120,000. If Ocean View has allowed itself to be in debt and needs to raise taxes, billing for police calls when originated by the State Police is an underhanded way of trying to get themselves out of the red and into the black.

P. Lytle