Letters - January 13, 2006

Community gathered for church in need

As most of you know our church, Community Lutheran in Omar, was robbed in early December. We had collected coins in a jar for a new sign out front. We want to thank the Delaware State Police for their quick response and the local newspapers for running our story.

The response from the article was wonderful. We have received many gifts and good wishes from throughout the local community. It would have been easy to be angry and want revenge for the awful act of stealing from God, but Jesus teaches us to love and forgive. Perhaps the culprits needed the money to feed and clothe themselves. We’ll probably never know.

One thing we do know is that we will have our new sign, thanks to the help of our many friends.

Alice Hanke
Community Lutheran Church

State senator needs to look out for Sussex

Gerrymandering is the arrangement of the political divisions of a city, state, county, etc., to give one political party an unfair advantage in elections.

For years, Sussex County Council has gerrymandered election districts to give western councilmen unfair rule over all of Sussex. Lines were drawn to permit two councilmen to come from Laurel and the other from Greenwood, thereby giving them three out of five deciding votes on every issue.

Actual voter data shows that as of the 2004 election, at least 67 percent of the county actually lives east of U.S. Route 113, not west. Yet because of gerrymandering, Eastern Sussex has only two councilmen to represent them while only one lives on the heavily developing coast. District gerrymandering has created a tremendous imbalance and deprived Eastern Sussex people of a voice.

So the Delaware House of Representatives passed bi-partisan House Bill 170, by a 34-4 margin, to add two at-large members to Sussex County Council this year. The bill is more than fair and probably too mild because it does not guarantee that Eastern Sussex will have adequate representation; it only gives them a chance at it. They deserve much more than that.

Incredibly, State Senate President Pro Tem Thurman Adams, Jr. of Bridgeville will not even release House Bill 170 for a Senate vote for fear that it will pass. That is not only unfair, it is shortsighted because many of his own 19th District constituents live east of U.S. 113 and he is disenfranchising them, perhaps to his own peril in November 2006, if he runs for another term.

The General Assembly convened recently, so please write to Sen. Adams at Legislative Hall, P.O. Box 1401, Dover, DE 19903, and call him at (302) 744-4318 and ask that he release House Bill 170 for a Senate vote. It’s the least that the senator can do for a group that has been treated in such a shabby way.

Joan Deaver, President
Citizens for a Better Sussex

Community came to resident in time of needPhyllis Joyce Hudson

VILLAGE families have good holiday season

On behalf of the children and families of Project VILLAGE, Indian River School District (IRSD), I wish to extend heartfelt thanks to the Indian River Educational Complex’s administration and support staff; Mary, Mother of Peace Catholic Church; Back Bay Strummers; Toys for Tots Marine team; and Salem Methodist Church for their generous gifts.

These individuals and groups expressed the true meaning of the Christmas season and brightened the lives of our Project VILLAGE families.

Susan C. Kerwin, Coordinator

Pet show a success thanks to many

Thanks to all who made the 5th Annual Hometown Pet Show such a success, especially:

1. The pets and their owners for making it all possible with their enthusiasm, cooperation, entry fees and donations;

2. Mitzi Shank again for her artwork;

3. Leo Brady for the “idea” and continued support;

4. Linda Regan for her planning, energy and organizational excellence and on-site leadership.

5. The judges: Carol Olmstead and Tom Neville for their keen eyes in judging, Laurie Shelton for judging and on-site assistance;

6. Monte Wisbrock for best all-around performance and flexibility as emcee and a host of other duties;

7. A special thanks to Brandon Smith, Donna Fee, Mitzi Shank and Clare and Jim Mace for their speed, wit, accuracy, thoroughness and quick thinking at the registration table;

8. Amy Tingle and the Chamber for support and publicity;

9. Elaine Herbert for flawless on-scene support;

10. The Coastal Point for your support and publicity

Your efforts are much appreciated. See you all Jan. 1, 2007.

Jim Shank
Bethany Town Cats

Hunting regulations must be studied

The time has come when our lawmakers should re-think the hunting regulations in our section of Sussex County. New development is encroaching more and more of our fields and forests, and it is only a matter of time before we have a shooting incident. You cannot have residential areas in a hunting ground; you are playing Russian roulette with citizens’ lives. Now is the time to review the existing regulations and to update and amend them as appropriate.

Frederick Kelley

Let’s get the facts on new construction

On Jan. 14, the Fenwick Island Town Council is holding a special public meeting to discuss the renovation and/or construction of a new town hall.

Already money has been spent for an architect’s rendering of a new design. For a fee of $8,800, Davis, Bowen and Friedel Inc. has presented a plan that calls for the replacement of the current town hall with a totally new building that will cost more than $2.3 million. The size of this building will increase from the present 3,000 square feet to approximately 9,600 square feet.

There are many questions that need to be answered about this plan. First, why is so much additional space needed? Second, where will the money come from to pay for this major expense? What tax increases are planned?

It is very important for property owners to attend this meeting and keep themselves informed. The Town Council has not yet voted to proceed with this plan. Public input is important before tax dollars are spent. Therefore, I urge all property owners to attend this meeting if possible and to contact council members with any thoughts or questions.

Wayne Lednum
Fenwick Island

Debate is needed — not politics and spin

The debate over the warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) is timely. It involves what may seem to many as arcane legal issues, but nevertheless important ones. Americans need to decide what the balance should be between national security and civil liberties, which is not a clear-cut choice. Everyone wants the government to do all it can to keep America safe but at what cost to long-term civil liberties? This is a debate worth having.

But what we need most in the debate is honesty from government officials — certainly not disingenuous statements from elected officials, such as that made by Vice-President Cheney before a meeting at the Heritage Foundation. In his speech he said that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks might have been avoided if the government had had the authority to monitor secretly the conversations of two of the hijackers. This is patently grossly misleading.

According to the 9/11 Commission, the government had significant information on the two suspects dating from December 1999 and the primary reasons for the security breakdown was bureaucratic bungling, not a lack of information.

Also, per the 9/11 Commission, the government did not know where the terrorists were living, also through lost opportunities to track them in the 20 months before the attack. This means that warrantless wiretapping was not even feasible without knowing where they lived.

Finally, intelligence agencies had lots of information on the attackers about their association with terrorist activities but had failed to put their names on a watch list. And in August 2001 the government knew that at least one of them had entered the United States but bungled subsequent surveillance.

An honest debate is needed — not political or misleading spin by the man who is a heartbeat away from the presidency. Too much is at stake.

Mary K. Ryan
Bethany Beach

Voters should replace county officials

As a relative newcomer to Delaware and Sussex County, I read with increasing frustration the problems of secrecy and misuse of power cited in today’s News Journal, not to mention the apparent “conflicts of interest,” which exist in the Sussex County Council. The problem is far from simple.

Delaware voters have to be made to realize that irresponsible actions on the part of elected officials should not be tolerated. The relatively independent news media should be using the power of the press, and spoken word, to: (1) inform voters; (2) get them involved in addressing the biggest problem they have-the reckless use of political power and secrecy; and (3) encourage the electorate to take action or quit complaining.

It is a big problem, but the solution is relatively simple. If elected officials are acting irresponsibly or contrary to the best interest of the state, county or voters, replace them with candidates who will.

Homer Purdy

Eskimo event a big hit once again

On behalf of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, I would like to express my gratitude to all who were involved with the 10th Anniversary Leo Brady Exercise Like the Eskimos and 5th Annual Hometown Pet Show. With nearly 275 splashers and over 80 animals, the event was a great success.

I would especially like to thank the event’s namesake, Leo Brady, for his vision, time and effort. In addition, I wish to thank our towel sponsor, ResortQuest Realty; Pet Show Chairman Jim Shank; and Brett Warner and his staff at the Public Works Department of the Town of Bethany Beach; as well as the many volunteers, splashers and spectators, for helping to make this event a success.

We wish you all a happy, healthy, prosperous new year.

Amy S. Tingle, Events Manager
Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce

Phillips should not follow through on plan

In the last two years, Sussex County Council has taken some steps to discourage zonings that in the past led to overcrowding of the environmentally sensitive coastal area around the inland bays.

But now Councilman Vance Phillips, who lives outside this zone, would have council take a giant step backward. Phillips proposes that council offer developers a deal whereby they may double the amount of building in this zone if they’ll send back a part of their profits to a special fund to buy land parcels for preservation elsewhere in the county.

Trying to save other rural areas from the abuses that have occurred in the environmentally sensitive zone is a worthwhile endeavor. But does that end justify the means? Is it right to knowingly make things worse in one area so that another area might be better? Do conscientious developers really need what appears to be a payoff to contribute to a worthy cause?

Phillips’ proposition should be rejected by council. It’s just not fair and far too cozy. Instead, in the interest of residents throughout the county, council should:

• Maintain the existing two-units-per-acre density ceiling on development in the environmentally sensitive zone.

• Establish a one-unit-per-acre overall density ceiling in rural zones regardless of development type.

• Eliminate unintended bonuses and loopholes in density calculations in all zones by basing land calculations on buildable acreage after subtracting roads and wetlands.

• Allow cluster developments in rural areas, but with an increase in minimum open space from 30 percent to 50 percent.

• Fund land preservation acquisitions from county surpluses and donations from enlightened developers.

Harry Haon
Fenwick Island