Letters


Atkins thankful for support of many
Editor:

I wish to thank the many supporters and friends in Sussex County who have expressed their support and friendship over the last five years. I am proud of what we accomplished together over the last five years — not as Republicans, Democrats or Independents — but as proud Sussex Countians.

Many of the projects undertaken were achieved because you, regular citizens and community leaders, visited or called me with ideas or pressing needs to make our towns better and safer places to work and live. Getting things done is what being an elected official is all about. I was proud to work with you in getting some of the following accomplished during my service as your state representative.

In Millsboro, we funded equipment for the Millsboro Little League and paved the Millsboro Fire Company parking lot. We worked to improve public safety by funding a motorcycle for the Millsboro Police Department. I enjoyed working with Barbara Godwin and the Millsboro Women’s Civic Organization on many civic projects.

In Dagsboro, we secured over $600,000 dollars from the 21st Century Fund for the town during their water and sewer project. We also paved the Clayton Avenue job and Route 26 and the Townsend development.

In Frankford, when the fire hydrant problem occurred, we worked together with town officials to receive over $200,000 to make sure adequate fire protection was in place in the town limits. We secured over $60,000 for Selbyville for town sidewalks when they were damaged in a snow storm.

In Gumboro, I learned that when I first took office that Gumboro was the only fire company in the state that had never received funding for the thermal imaging cameras used to locate people in the case of a smoke-filled room in the event of a fire. I strongly argued that a life in Gumboro was just as important as a life in the city of Wilmington. Needless to say, we now have that thermal imaging camera to save lives. We also worked to fund projects with the Gumboro Community Center.

In Oak Orchard and Long Neck, we secured money for the Boys and Girls Club and cut through a lot of red tape to get the project moving. We worked to pave the roads in William Ritter Manor, Sherwood Forest and Captains Grant. We are also in the middle of the huge paving job for the American Legion Post 28.

On the legislative front, I am most proud of our battles to support veterans, our farmers, and against state-funded needle exchange programs.

We worked fiercely to fund and build the State Veterans Home now, instead of the extended timeline Gov. Minner had originally proposed. We worked to stand up to DNREC on the contentious deer-control issue in support of the hard-working Delaware farmer. Lastly, I fought tooth and nail against spending your tax dollars to give free needles to drug addicts in Wilmington, and demanded safeguards and guarantees are in place to protect innocent children and the schools from this program.

There will always be important battles fought when some in government attempt to take away our rights. I was proud to support those in the Indian River School District defending the right to pray in our local schools. I was consistently endorsed by the NRA because of my deep belief in our fundamental freedom to bear arms, to hunt and to protect our families. And I was pleased to enact a law that lets every Delaware citizen fly an American flag, regardless of what any zoning or homeowner rule says you can do on your own property.

It was an honor to serve you for five years in the House of Representatives. I enjoyed working with the good citizens and local leaders to better our communities. Thank you for everything you have done to help me in my service to you.

John C. Atkins
Millsboro

Reader feels that Atkins got bad shake
Editor:

I have never written a letter to the editor in my life, but I can no longer sit idly by and watch a good man be crucified anymore. Is John Atkins a perfect man? No. Has John made mistakes? Yes, just like you and I.

I voted for John Atkins not for his personal life, but for what I thought he could do for the people, and I am proud to say my decision was right.

What disturbs me most is that the press, legislators, Delawareans with no ties to the 41st District, and even John’s own party have played judge and jury, convicted him of being human and disregarded the will of the people. After all, what are the legislators representing, the will of the people or their own political agendas?

Well, frankly, I’ve had enough and so have hundreds of my friends and neighbors. Therefore on Saturday, May 5, we’re going to send a message that we are proud to be Sussex Countians and we will not go quietly in the night.

We are going to write John Atkins’ name on the ballot. Despite his faults, he is the man we chose to represent us and he has done a very good job, and we want him back in Dover to finish the job he started.

Sheila Clark
Millsboro

Reader plans to write in Atkins for 41st seat
Editor:

I am a voter in the 41st District and I am going to write in John Atkins at the special election. I know some other people who are going to do the same. I don’t agree with what happened to John — not saying he was in the right — but to cast him out the way they did… or should I say, “force him out,” evidently shows that those is New Castle don’t think we are smart enough in Sussex County to make a decision on our own.

John did a good job representing us in Dover and has also worked on some good legislation while there. How dare those not in the 41st make the decision on who should or should not be representing me? I voted John in and voted each time for him to stay.

It upset me that they put him in a position to resign or face expulsion. I think the censorship would have been fine and let the people of his district decide at the general election. John is a good guy with lots to offer us in the 41st, along with a lot to offer the state. He’s young and outgoing; he is who we need in Dover. Write in John Atkins 41st Rep.

Martin Kirby
Voter, 41st District

Community lost a valuable member
Editor:

Three years ago today, I lost my hero and my friend. With the passing of Lori Phillips (May 7, 1956 — April 18, 2004) Delaware lost an extraordinary force. She was a champion to so many — a staunch fighter for social and economic justice; a brilliant woman who went into law to serve the underdog and make a difference. Lori was possessed of a moral purity and ethical integrity that remain unparalleled.

I first met Lori when she volunteered to represent my family. We were struggling to stay afloat in the midst of great despair. At a time when so many people in our community turned their backs on our family, Lori stepped up and gave us the hope and the fortitude to persevere.

It didn’t take long for us to become fast friends. She didn’t care that we were an “unpopular” cause. She realized that her professionalism was not hindered by her compassion, and she took the time to get to know us on a deep human level. I was amazed by the depth of her concern for my family.

I learned so much from Lori in the few months I was privileged to know her. I learned about the essence of why we were put on this earth. Her philosophy was a simple, no-nonsense one. Lori demonstrated every day that serving our fellow human beings is what life is about. She reaped tremendous joy and satisfaction from her work.

It was only after she left us so suddenly that I realized the scope of Lori’s accomplishments, because she was as humble as she was passionate. She had maintained a thriving private practice, all the while working relentlessly to better the conditions of the underprivileged people in our community. She was instrumental in the formation of the Sussex Housing Group, and she faithfully accepted pro bono cases for Sussex Community Crisis Housing Services, the ACLU of Delaware, the Delaware Housing Coalition, Delaware Volunteer Legal Services, and Abriendo Puertas, a battered women’s shelter.

I miss Lori every day. I pray that the seeds of service, compassion, human connection, and justice that Lori planted in our community may take root and thrive in the hearts of all of us. Peace be with you, Lori.

Dina Odetalla
Ocean View

Helping Hands thankful for help from others
Editor:

Lord Baltimore Helping Hands 4H Club would like to thank all those who have contributed cell phones, chargers, etc., to our Cell Phones for Soldiers drop-off boxes at the Rite Aid in Millville and Ladies Workout Express in Millsboro.

As seen on CBS News, this unique fundraising program began three years ago with two youths, ages 12 and 13. In order to help soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan call home for free, they collected cell phones and recycled them for cash — approximately $5 for each phone. They then bought phone cards for the troops. This enabled the troops to call home for free.

In 3 years, this program has sent more than 1.5 million phone minutes to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. We ask you to help us with this worthy cause by continuing to drop off your unwanted cell phones and chargers. To date we have collected over 200 phones to be sent to this wonderful program.

Thanks also, to Rite Aid of Millville and Ladies Workout Express in Millsboro for generously allowing us to have a drop-off box at their businesses. And thank you all, for your continued support.

Kathy DiSabatino, Assistant Leader
Lord Baltimore Helping Hands 4H Club
Ocean View

Family grateful for support in time of need
Editor:

On behalf of the family of Bruce McCabe, I would like to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for your generous support and friendship as we grieve the loss of our family member, Bruce McCabe.

A special recognition goes out to the Bethany Beach Fire Department and Doyle’s Restaurant for their hospitality at the reception and Melson’s Funeral Home for coordinating a touching memorial for Bruce. The special recognition by Grand Lodge of Masons #37 and his peers at Delmarva Power was greatly appreciated and will always be fondly remembered.

We feel so fortunate to have so many caring people in our lives during this very difficult time for our family. Thank you for helping us to ensure that Bruce’s passion for life will live on in each of us and serve as a constant reminder of how precious our time here truly is.

Sue McCabe and family

Wichmann responds to previous letter

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

Last week’s paper published a letter authored by Councilman Thomas, forecasting a pending gloom and doom fiscal scenario in Ocean View. He urged that we may be able to avoid this situation of “…no reserves and a 100 percent tax increase” if we follow his lead and that of our former town manager, Ms. Roth, and the outgoing Councilman Magill and practice “…prudent fiscal management.”

I disagree with his premise and, to quote the radio commentator Paul Harvey, I would like to say, “Now for the rest of the story.”

First, let me assure all the citizens of Ocean View that we are financially sound, with more than sufficient accessible reserves of approximately $2.9 million. We are this way in spite of these aforementioned individuals, not because of them.

To illustrate their lack of “…prudent fiscal management…” with an example, our town water project, chaired by the outgoing councilman and managed by the former town manager, is two years behind schedule, with no signed contract with Tidewater, and nearly $2 million overbudget due to their lack of “…due diligence…” and failure to maintain federal grant guidelines. These $2 million would just about pay for the entire new police department station project.

And while I am on the subject of the new police department building, we have sufficient reserves of transfer tax monies to pay off the balance of this project now, thus eliminating the debt. This would save the town approximately $2 million of future interest payments, spanning the next 40 years. It is penny-wise and dollar-foolish, to not pay off this debt with transfer tax monies, which are mandated by state law for public works projects like the new police station.

When the governor arrives for the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony, I am sure the governor would be pleased to learn that this project was paid in full utilizing the transfer tax monies she allows us to keep. The governor and the legislature have the power, as stated in the proposed House Bill 111, to remove or reduce this revenue. The transfer tax monies are to be used for public works, not for secreting in trust funds.

I am not totally against the theory or practice of these emergency reserve or capital replacement trust funds. However, I am against the limiting access restrictions and supplementing them with funding of 25 percent from our future transfer tax revenue then authoring a “now the bad news” letter to the Ocean View citizens in an attempt to justify “…a forced 9 percent tax increase.”

The town council’s obligation is to explore and utilize all revenue sources before increasing property taxes. The renters tax, impact fee, increase in the building permit fee and other town fees, all will add to our coffers but not to the degree of transfer tax revenues. We recently annexed over 300 new home sites at Canal Landing, which will produce $7-8 million in revenue over the next five years. We also have the capability to annex a considerable amount of land to our south and west. And we should annex it now because we can’t ignore this growth; it is like trying to ignore the sun rising in the east.

However, we can regulate it via our Planning and Zoning Board and benefit from it through additional revenues via transfer taxes, impact fees, building permit fees and etcetera. If we let this land remain solely in county control, then we still get the liabilities of increased traffic and congestion, but without benefiting from the assets of additional revenue and zoning control.

A former Sussex County official utilized a formula to determine approximate yearly revenues from transfer taxes. He estimated the yearly transfer tax revenue as approximately 60 percent of the average of the past three years of transfer tax revenue. With that formula as a guide, our town should realize monies that would be more than sufficient to supplement any cash deficiencies in our budget and maintain a reserve.

Now, I would like to address the recent “…forced 9 percent tax increase,” which is why I believe Mr. Thomas authored his gloom-and-doom letter. It is the justification for his motion and vote for the property tax increase.

For the record, Councilman Norm Amendt and I voted against this increase. We believe the increase was totally without merit and that our town’s financial future is stable.

Mr. Thomas’s letter states, “Even with this tax increase, Ocean View will be facing a cash shortage of $1,375,000 over the next five years.” And then two paragraphs later he states, “Over the next five years, Ocean View will spend $3.9 million more that it takes in.” Well, which is it? Using these five-year figures is unjustified scare tactics. They are statistically flawed, as these alleged shortages were calculated without factoring in any revenues from transfer taxes.

Unlike Bethany Beach and other beach towns, Ocean View has room to grow and expand, which will result in an increase of all tax revenues. Ocean View is growing, attractive and a preferred place to live. I do not believe in burdening current citizens with higher taxes today so future residents may have a lighter tax load. All citizens should pay their fair share of an equitable tax and no more.

I do not condone the smoke-and-mirror tactic of withdrawing monies from our transfer tax reserve and secreting these dollars into special accounts, then raising taxes claiming that the town may face a situation with “…no reserves and a 100 percent tax increase.” Utilizing transfer tax revenue is not deficit spending; it is sound management of a financial resource. Deficit spending, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, is the spending of public funds obtained by borrowing rather than by taxation.

It is my pledge to all of our citizens that I will utilize any and all available resources for revenues before I place an additional burden on their property tax bill. I believe the citizens deserve the same sound fiscal responsibility that I employ in my own home, practiced when I was a councilman for 12 years in another area and utilized in my 35 years in international business.

That is to create revenue, maintain a contented work force, provide necessary services, monitor expenses, pay bills on time, pay off large purchases to save on interest payments and put monies aside for a rainy day.

Ocean View Councilman Bill Wichmann
(Read and endorsed by Councilman Norm Amendt)