Letters to the Editor -- September 12, 2008

Resident has issues with council member

It has come to my attention that Councilman Roy Thomas has sent a letter to Mayor Wood berating his behavior at the Aug. 12 town hall meeting.

This is stupefying hubris and unmitigated gall after Mr. Thomas’ performance at that same meeting. Starting with the hearing on four Bear Trap commercial units being turned into residential units, requested by Mr. Skip Valliant of Carl Freeman Enterprises, Mr. Valliant was bullied and embarrassed by Mr. Thomas’ continued attack on him over the Bear Trap golf course. The golf course was never listed on the agenda and there was no reason for even mentioning this. This may even have represented a FOIA violation.

Then, after getting revved up and playing to the audience, Mr. Thomas did not disappoint. He turned his attack onto Mayor Wood. He continued bullying, battering, talking over and interrupting the mayor until the mayor said, “You’ve muzzled the mayor.” Councilman Mitchell immediately chimed in with “the mayor should pass the gavel to the Mayor Pro-Tem as he could not conduct the meeting.” Fortunately, the mayor held firm.

This was a grievous and appalling attempt at public coups d’etat. Unfortunately and sadly for our town, this behavior represents a trend and not a singular occurrence.

Elaine Birkmeyer
Ocean View

Ocean View shines in emergency meeting

It’s too bad that the reporters and Ocean View residents who have attended some of the raucous and divisive town council meetings missed last Friday’s (Sept. 5) emergency Town Council meeting, called to set up procedures to handle any serious problems caused by Tropical Storm Hannah.

The entire council, Town Manager Conway Gregory, Police Chief Kenny McLaughlin, Police Sgt. Heath Hall, David Colella of CAP, Public Works Director Charlie McMullen and Financial Adviser Lee Brubaker participated in the meeting. Three residents were in the audience.

In a very focused, civil, 35-minute meeting, the procedures were set up, with Gregory designated to head up the emergency team. McLaughlin was named to assist Gregory, and in the event Gregory could not fulfill his responsibilities, McLaughlin would take command and Sgt. Hall would be McLaughlin’s assistant and backup. It was obvious that all of the participants were committed to one goal — making certain that the town would do its very best to help and protect Ocean View residents should Hannah turn out to be a dangerous lady.

I could not have imagined a more efficient, well-organized and cooperative meeting. If all of our regular town council meetings can achieve this decorum, we will be a much better community, able to improve and enhance our town.

Ed Herbert
Ocean View

(Editor’s note: The Coastal Point did not receive notice of the Sept. 5 emergency meeting.)

McClenny thanks many, vows to serve

Congratulations to our newly elected and re-elected Bethany Beach Town Council members! Along with many others, my personal “thank you” goes to Jerry Dorfman, Tracy Mulligan and Steve Wode, who served with us on council during the past two years.

We had a much improved voter response in this election, and it was great to see so many of our citizens come out on a stormy day to exercise their privilege to vote. I applaud everyone who took time to vote.

As a town council member, I ask our residents, property owners and business owners to provide support for your council members as we concentrate on the issues and needs of our town. I will continue to work with our townsfolk to assist in the presentation of ideas, constructive criticism, concerns and problems regarding the management of our town. Your concerns, ideas and issues will be acknowledged and each will be accepted and dealt with in a courteous and timely manner.

The annual appointments to our various town boards and committees will be made in the next few weeks. If you are interested, willing to serve and have the time and energy necessary to benefit our town as a committee member, now is the time to contact one of our council members or call our town office at (302) 539-80ll and let us know of your experience and willingness to serve.

Tony McClenny, Vice-Mayor
Bethany Beach

Families Connected thankful for help

I would like to thank the community for helping with our Annual Back-to-School Supply Drive. Because of the generous support of our donors, Families Connected Inc. was able to help over 300 students with school supplies and gift cards to purchase other school items. We even helped some with used computers. I really feel blessed to be a part of a community who really cares about children who are less fortunate.

Our sponsors included: Stanley and Edna Lemiska; Robert and Judith Doughty; Elsa Clarke; Daniel and Brenda Bove; Ferrell Cooling & Heating Inc.; Italian Heritage Association; Ronald Coffin; Blue Water Grill; Doroshow Pasquale Krawitz & Bhaya LLC; Pinnacle Foods; Bethany Church; Johnny Janosik; Sharon Jobin; Tony McClenny; Jean Norwood; Jason and Shante Hastings; Grace U.M. Church (Millsboro); Kingdom Life Family Ministries Inc.; Happy Harry’s/Walgreen’s; Harriet Mair; Stephanie Collick; Erin Chamberlain; Joseph and Sandra Myers, Marcia Maldeis and Stan Mills; Robert and Wanda Radish; American Legion Aux. Unit 28; Lance Mueller; The Bank of Delmarva; Phillip and Mary Rossi; Ronald and Patricia Fonner; Anthony and Gloria Santoni; Joe and Rachel Beail; Aleatha Short; and Sound U.M. Church.

Thanks for connecting with our mission and helping us continue our efforts of “building strong communities one family at a time.” I appreciate your support and commitment. Your friendship means so much to me and the families served by our agency.

Thank you.

Carolyn C. Showell, Director
Families Connected Inc.

Local voice answers previous letter

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the Graeub family, in response to their previous letter to the editor regarding the condition of Bethany Beach’s reconstructed shoreline, and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

I couldn’t help but respond to your letter to the Bethany Beach mayor/Coastal Point (Sept. 5, 2008) regarding your feelings about the dunes on our beaches. I am sorry to hear that you have such strong feelings because they have taken away the view of our waterfront.

I’m sure you understand that protection of the properties along our boardwalk, both commercial and public, is vital to all the people on the Delaware seashore. Tourism is a major enterprise in the state and we must protect our assets. Thus, the federal Corps of Engineers was solicited to design and construct a dune that would withstand nature’s insults; the dune was the result of over two years of design and construction.

Whether or not we like it, and there is a vocal minority that doesn’t like it, the dune has already protected our community from a serious nor’easter in May 2008. Surely the town council could not take a null stance and expose the boardwalk and properties to nature. Perhaps the next time the Corps is asked to build a dune, they will revisit the height issue; in the meantime, it will remain as is.

I hope that your family will reconsider your decision to come and enjoy a vacation at Bethany Beach. We have such a family-friendly community, safe for people of all ages and free entertainment on the boardwalk every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Our beaches are free to the public and our lifeguards are well-trained.

On the other hand, I’m sure that you can find beaches in neighboring states that will suit your needs, beaches not just as nice as ours.

Allan Allenspach
South Bethany

Election-related thanks, congrats, lesson learned

I would like to thank BBLA for hosting the Meet-the-Candidates Night and all the candidates for their time and commitment in running for the Bethany Town Council. We now have two “new” Council members — Jack Gordon and Margaret Young — and “returning” members — Lew Kilmer and Tony McClenny. Congratulations to all the winners!

Prior to and during the election, each candidate made promises to carry out “their” agendas. I ask that all the council members (old, new and existing) please take from Friday night’s meeting as a lesson learned regarding the attendees’ negative reaction to the widening of the boardwalk.

That lesson is: the voting constituencies have an obligation to make their opinions known to the council members, and the council members need to establish a “user-friendly” process to obtain those opinions. Then, the councilmen’s agenda may be more in line with those of the constituents.

I use the boardwalk only as an illustration; it applies to all issues which involve not only the expenditure of large sums of money but also those that could alter the “look and feel” of the town — matters that are clearly and potentially controversial.

Rather than go far along into the process, then be surprised by an unexpected reaction, and then have to back pedal — it seems that it would be better to obtain, first, the sense of the community. Initially, this process will be burdensome, but once the constituency is comfortable with the lines of communication and they see that it is working (that is, they are having an impact), then a two-way trust will ensue and the council’s overall effectiveness will be improved.

This is not to say that the council will always yield to the majority opinion, but when tough decisions have to be made that run counter to the majority, then proper and complete arguments can be prepared in anticipation of a negative reaction!

How can this be done? I am no expert, but there seem to be ways other than public hearings. For example: surveys in local papers (could reference a Web page to go to and complete the survey); have area representatives gather information from their neighborhoods; have town hall meetings in communities covering a variety of topics (like Rep. Hocker does); telephone/e-mail surveys via volunteers. These require effort for both the council and the constituents but should pay off in the longer term.

Ray Aumiller
Bethany Beach

A little sendback to previous letter-writer

I would like to bid adieu to Mr./Ms. Graeub and his/her family concerning their displeasure with the beach in Bethany. His/her opinion of the beach is a one-week-a-year snapshot that lacks the insight of the many issues that surround beach replenishment.

Whether one agrees with the principle of harvesting sand offshore and pumping it onto the beach, it is currently the only method to combat beach erosion that has acceptance among federal, state and local coastal managers. The only other option is to not replenish, and the resulting property loss is widely considered unacceptable. This is not a rich vs. poor issue in our community, but rather a matter of preserving our local infrastructure and economy.

As for Mr./Ms. Graeub’s disappointment with the finished product, I offer my observations of beach conditions almost daily during my 20 years of living in the Bethany area (most of that a resident).

I have witnessed some three or four replenishment events, and the first season following the work the beach inevitably has a steep drop-off, causing shore-breakers (much to the displeasure of surfers and swimmers). As the tides and storm cycles erode the shore, the beach and wave zone flattens and the water is more enjoyable.

As for the dune, I personally like it and will enjoy watching the plant life mature; hopefully, it will provide wildlife habitat as well. I suspect that residents and visitors will grow to appreciate this green space and it will be accepted and less controversial.

While I’m tempted to wish the Graeub family one smooth, final trip back to Chevy Chase, I suppose I will be more hospitable and ask their patience (a quality that it seems some of our visitors lack). Further, I invite them back to a Bethany that has an enjoyable (i.e. surf-able and swim-able) beach, and a boardwalk and downtown that has not been destroyed by ocean storms.

Bob Collins
Bethany Beach

Fenwick guards say ‘thank you’ for the help

The United States Lifesaving Association National Championships were held last month in Manhattan Beach, Calif., featuring the best lifeguards and athletes from across the country, as well as Hawaii. It is with great pride that we share with the community another excellent performance by the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol and the Sussex County Lifesaving Association.

The 4-by-100 relay team captured the gold for the second time in three years and Tim Ferry repeated as Masters Beach Flag Champion. Overall, the Sussex County Lifesaving Association (guards from Rehoboth to Fenwick Island) placed third in the country, behind Los Angels County and Monmouth County, N.J.

All of the competitors should be commended for their hard work and effort as lifeguards and competitors.

These great accomplishments would not have been possible without the financial support from our community and businesses. Please know that the lifeguards are extremely grateful for your generosity, and we hope that you will share in the accolades that are well deserved.

There are numerous individuals and businesses that truly have been outstanding in their support and, in lieu of trying to list everyone, please accept our thanks again for making this a memorable trip. A special thanks goes out to the Fenwick Island Beach Committee and the Town Council.

We hope that your summer has been safe and enjoyable.

Tim Ferry, Captain
Fenwick Island Beach Patrol

Bethany program did not satisfy reader

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Bethany Beach Landowners Association President John Himmelberg and forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

I am sending this letter to you, as president of the Bethany Beach Landowners Association, with copies to the editors of the Coastal Point and the Delaware Wave, as a result of the Sept. 5 Meet-the-Candidates evening sponsored by the BBLA, preceding the election for members of the Bethany Beach Town Council. This was the first time I had attended one of these sessions, so I have no basis by which to compare it with programs of previous years.

I was disappointed, disillusioned and distressed by the content and tenor of the Sept. 5 program for a number of reasons. First of all, I question the ethics of BBLA sponsoring a supposedly unbiased and impartial forum when two of the candidates are members of your Board of Directors; I believe there is a conflict of interest involved here. My understanding is that your organization, with its non-profit status, is not supposed to be a political group, but rather one to disseminate information to its members.

Along those lines, while all of the seven candidates had been informed in advance that they would have five minutes for an opening statement, there was no agenda distributed until the start of the program. At that time, the candidates learned that there would also be an opportunity for a closing statement. However, at least one candidate — one of your directors — had this information in advance, as she had a prepared closing statement.

In addition, one of the questions was addressed only to this candidate, and it was a loaded question designed to give a favorable view of her positions. On the other hand, a very inappropriate and insulting question, which was more the statement of a grievance of one of your Board members, was presented to one of the incumbents — despite the protests of several people in the audience that the question was out of line.

Another concern is over the quality of the questions asked the candidates. Many were preceded by a lengthy “preamble” — to use the moderator’s word — which was a fairly detailed expression of the opinion of the author of the question. Instead of eliciting expressions of the opinions of the candidates, along with their reasoning, these questions asked for merely a “yes” or “no” answer and were highly uninformative. Few questions gave the candidates the opportunity to discuss their views on important and relevant issues.

An event that gives the voters a chance to meet and listen to candidates for office is a worthwhile endeavor with a constructive purpose, and I believe that we need a truly impartial, unbiased, non-political group to conduct future Meet-the-Candidate evenings. I suggest that the Coastal Point and/or the Delaware Wave be asked to sponsor these meetings, with their editors and/or reporters serving as moderators.

Both of our local papers did an excellent job of covering this year’s election, asking incisive and relevant questions of all the candidates and publishing thorough, fair and unbiased coverage. With their existing wide circulation, it would be easy for the papers to solicit questions from readers via e-mail or U.S. mail.

While I admire the purpose of the BBLA in sponsoring the Sept. 5 meeting, I question the execution, and I feel that the evening was a disservice to both the candidates and to the interested citizens of Bethany who took the time to attend the meeting. Despite the protestations at the beginning of the evening that the BBLA did not favor any candidates over others, it was obvious that there was a bias towards candidates who are BBLA officers or directors.

If one or both of the newspapers are willing, let’s give them a chance to present a truly impartial and unbiased program to enhance the ability of interested citizens to make an informed vote.

Joan Gordon
Bethany Beach

Chamber thanks all who helped with event

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, we’d like to thank all the sponsors, artists and volunteers that showed their support of the 30th Annual Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival. Unfortunately, the unsafe conditions caused by Tropical Storm Hanna resulted in the cancellation of the Arts Festival scheduled for Sept. 6.

The Arts Festival is a Delaware Hall of Fame event that has pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into our local economy over the years.

The Arts Festival also gives back to the community through our schools. Each year, our talented artists donate items for the Silent Auction that takes place during the festival. Proceeds from the auction benefit the art programs at Lord Baltimore Elementary School, Southern Delaware School of the Arts, Frankford Elementary School and Phillip C. Showell Elementary School.

Though we did not have the opportunity to hold a silent auction this year, the Chamber is committed to supporting art education. On behalf of our event sponsors and participating artists, the Chamber will continue this support and make donations to the art programs at these schools.

This event would not be possible without our dedicated volunteers, and the Chamber would like to thank all our volunteers for your support.

Special thanks go to the Town of Bethany Beach, Bethany Beach Police Department and Bethany Beach Fire Department. You go above and beyond each year to ensure a successful event and we are especially grateful for your help and guidance this year.

Thanks to our event sponsors for your generous support. Sponsors for this year’s event include Presenting Sponsors NVHomes and Ryan Homes; Supporting Sponsors Mariposa at Bethany, Seacost Realty and Bluewater Wind; Shopping Bag Sponsor PNC Bank – Fenwick Island; and Media Sponsors Coastal Point and Delaware Today.

Finally, thanks to our talented artists that make this show such a wonderful event. We thank you for your understanding and words of encouragement as we made the difficult decision to cancel the festival.

We are optimistic that next year will bring better weather and that our festival, now expanded into three street-festival areas and the entire length of the boardwalk, will be a great success. In the meantime, we encourage you to patronize the businesses of our many local artists. With holiday shopping just around the corner, a one-of-a-kind piece of art makes an exquisite and thoughtful gift.

Patti Grimes, President
Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce

Hocker invites all to ‘Coffee’s on Me’

I would again like to invite my constituents in the 38th District to my next “Coffee’s On Me,” being held on Thursday, Sept. 18, at Hocker’s Grocery & Deli, beginning at 8:30 a.m., until 9:30 a.m. This continuing event is open to all who may be interested in coming out and enjoying their morning coffee while having the opportunity to listen to updates or participate with their own questions.

Participation in the previous “Coffees” has been remarkable, and I hope that the constituents will continue to show their interest and support in the issues of the 38th District.

As always, I would like everyone to feel welcome to join us at the event or contact me at any time at the office (537-6016) or at home (539-4140). You can also check my Web site for additional events, at www.geraldhocker.com.

Rep. Gerald W. Hocker
38th District

Sussex Smiles to stop clinic operation

Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to state Rep. Gerald Hocker (R-38th) and forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.

The advisory board and executive director of Sussex Smiles Dental Care Inc. would like to thank you for all your hard work on behalf of the citizens of Delaware. Your legislation, H.B. 492, produced by working with the Delaware Dental Society, became law when signed by the governor in July. Delaware now joins our coastal neighbors, Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina, in the arena of licensing retiring, relocating dentists without taking the entire clinical board exam for a charity-only dental license.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, we feel that our struggling operation has progressed as far as it can; and at our Aug. 18, 2008, meeting we voted to cease clinic operation. We will contact La Red Health Center and Delmarva Rural Ministries to see if they are interested in assuming our equipment and operation, as we, of course, need to find a dental home for our clients. Hopefully, a different non-profit may be able to overcome the obstacles that we could not.

Thank you once again for being the only politician to walk through our doors, ask what you could do to help and then follow through doing it. Sussex Countians are very fortunate to have you representing us in the Delaware legislature.

Elliott Flick, D.D.S.
Anne E. Green, R.D.H.
Jeannie Fleming
Pat Duchesne

Candidate information useful in elections

It was a pleasure for my wife and I to attend the recent BBLA Meet-the-Candidates Night held at the Bethany Beach Fire Department.

I have to congratulate Steve Trodden for the excellent job he did in moderating the meeting.

Many of the questions/comments were on target and gave those in attendance a sense of what’s important to our community.

Our local newspapers were also effective in providing a common venue for the candidates to address key issues.

The bottom line was that a better-informed voting public, coupled with a well-managed voting process, helped to optimize the resultant election.

Thanks to all those people that helped in this important segment of our electoral process.

Jack Walsh
Bethany Beach