LETTERS: 2005-11-18

CIB hopes to bring community together

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, more than 100 participants attended the Beaches, Bays and Beyond workshop at the Atlantic Sands Hotel and Conference Center in Rehoboth Beach. The purpose of this event was to bring together individuals, agencies, organizations, businesses and community leaders interested in promoting low-impact, experiential tourism in the coastal resort area.

The workshop was organized by the Center for the Inland Bays (Delaware Inland Bays National Estuary Program) and sponsored by a host of supporters including the Atlantic Sands Hotel and Conference Center, Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, Cape May-Lewes Ferry, Delaware State Parks, Delaware Tourism Office, Delmarva Low-Impact Tourism Experiences (DLITE), Lewes Chamber of Commerce, Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, Southern Delaware Tourism Office, Sussex County Council and U.D. Sea Grant.

The Inland Bays area receives a substantial number of tourists or transient visitors each year who have a significant impact on the resource. In a letter from Suzanne Schwartz, director of the U.S. EPA’s Oceans and Coastal Protection Division, which administers the National Estuary Program, the EPA challenged the Center for the Inland Bays (CIB) to determine methods to effectively reach that audience and at a reasonable cost.

The organization of the Beaches, Bays and Beyond workshop was a response to this challenge. The Inland Bays Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, developed over several years by hundreds of Inland Bays stakeholders, includes two tactics which also directly supported this effort: G9B — identify user groups and their leadership, and G9F — promote education of out-of-state users and visitors.

Clearly, tourism is a leading industry in the coastal resort area and low-impact, experiential tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of that industry. By engaging the leaders (planners, outfitters, providers, etc.) of this segment of the industry, the Center for the Inland Bays believes it has successfully shared its message of conservation and protection of Delaware’s Inland Bays.

In turn, when the planners, outfitters, providers, etc. contact and serve their clientele, that message is further diffused and begins to increase awareness and understanding about this “estuary of national significance” throughout the region.

The Center for the Inland Bays is not a single-interest group restricted by a myopic view of the issues and concerns affecting the Inland Bays. As a National Estuary Program (NEP), the Center for the Inland Bays will continue to work on a variety of issues with all stakeholders and affected interest groups in the Inland Bays watershed.

Just as it has done for the past decade, the Center will continue to serve as an effective and adaptive model for developing solutions to complex environmental problems.

The CIB has been the laboratory and testing ground for watershed management techniques now being applied across the state and it continues to introduce innovative technologies and adaptive approaches to estuary problems.

Characterizing and systematically monitoring conditions, ensuring that management decisions are based on sound science, coordinating watershed actions, creatively finding project funding, promoting citizen involvement in managing public resources, and bringing local people and federal and state partners together to build solutions to estuary problems — these are all hallmarks of the National Estuary Program’s approach.

The staff at the Center stands ready and willing to provide information regarding the Beaches, Bays and Beyond conference and all other business that the Center conducts. The CIB is in constant communication with anyone who may have questions regarding any of our efforts or events. It is our desire that should anyone have an interest in or questions regarding any of our efforts, they simply contact us and participate in open and honest discussion.

Richard W. Eakle, Chair
Edward A. Lewandowski, Executive Director
Center for the Inland Bays

Gilchrist is behind OC replenishment projects

I have been following the discussion regarding the appropriation of funds to replenish Ocean City’s beach, particularly the remarks attributed to Ocean City’s mayor, and to put it mildly, I don’t like it.

Now that beach replenishment funds seem to be forthcoming, I suppose this will all be forgotten. Well, I don’t forget.

I have been chairman of the Ocean City Dune Stabilization Committee since 1981, when there were literally no dunes protecting Ocean City’s beach. They had been bulldozed away by developers, with the approval of the city fathers.

Largely through the efforts of members of our committee and like-minded citizens, Ocean City’s dunes gradually re-appeared. Eventually, the state and federal governments realized the value of dunes and appropriated funds to create a dune line from the boardwalk to the Delaware line. Moreover, funds were to be allocated each year by Ocean City, Worcester County, the state of Maryland and the federal government to insure that the newly created dunes were properly maintained.

One of the beach replenishment program’s staunchest supporters for the past 14 years has been Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, who has toured the dunes on many occasions, and in my judgment is the most environmentally sensitive member of congress.

For Ocean City’s mayor to infer that beach replenishment is not a priority item on the congressman’s agenda, or that he doesn’t know “how involved” the congressman is in the process, is incorrect. I believe an apology to Congressman Gilchrest is warranted.

Ann Horner Granados
Ocean City

Sussex needs venue for showcase events

The estimated 45,000 spectators that attended this year’s Punkin Chunkin got some welcome news when organizers said they’ll be back at the same site next year.

The future venue of the event was in doubt because 500 new homes are slated to be built on the farm that’s hosted it in recent years. The developer, Glen Urquhart, is going to begin developing the property near Millsboro in such a way that it won’t interfere with the 2006 Chunk.

Everyone in Delaware owes Mr. Urquhart a “thank you” for his willing cooperation to keep Punkin Chunkin in place. But while the event has gotten a temporary reprieve, there is no doubt that the development of Sussex County will continue. Open space, once commonplace, has been vanishing at an alarming rate.

Last year I recommended that the state purchase a large parcel of land off U.S. 113 near the Stockley Center to create a permanent home for Punkin Chunkin. The event has gotten bigger every year. An estimated 75 percent of the tens of thousands of people that come to it annually are from outside the county, giving Sussex an economic boost.

While finding a home for a beloved local event is one goal, the larger issue is the need to establish a permanent place in Sussex for handling public events of all descriptions.

Centrally-located and easily-accessible, the approximately 400-acre property between Georgetown and Millsboro could serve as a venue for both local and county happenings. Considering its possible multiplicity of uses, a good working designation for this project could be the “Sussex County Fairgrounds.”

At the rate development is moving forward in the county, it won’t be long before this ideal venue is lost to a commercial or residential use. In recent years, the state has bought golf courses in both Kent and New Castle counties with an eye towards preserving open space.

Considering the public potential of the Sussex County Fairgrounds, I would argue that the purchase of this property is a far more meritorious use of state funds.

Ever since I floated this proposal there has been a great deal of enthusiasm by both county residents and elected officials. I plan to continue pushing for it this year. My objective is to secure funding in fiscal year 2007 (which begins next summer) to at least put a down payment on this project.

Despite the tight money situation we’re likely to face in the next budget, this is an idea whose time has come. Delaying will only mean higher costs in future years, if it gets done at all. Making the Sussex County Fairgrounds a reality will not only maintain valuable open space in a high-growth area, it will help preserve the desirable quality of life that has made Sussex such an attractive place to live.

State Rep. Joe Booth

Punkin Chunkin was a hit, thanks to many

I would like to take the opportunity on behalf of the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association to thank everyone for his or her help this past year.

First, our sponsor list grew this year. Without the generosity of the following sponsors we could not continue our programs: the Delaware Lottery, Kaeser Compressors, Harley Davidson of Seaford and Rehoboth Beach, Sunny Surplus Outlet, Baker’s Hardware, Husqvarna, Advance Pole Frame Concepts, Waste Management of Georgetown, Verizon Wireless, Fifer Orchards, WMDT Channel 47, Clean Delaware Inc., Hudson’s Truck Repair, M&M Refrigeration, Mugs & Stitches of Lewes, Cat Country & Delmarva Broadcasting, Holly Lake Campsites, Allen’s Chicken, Holland Jewelers, Hampton Inn of Lewes, Hollyville Farms and WSFS.

I would like to thank our very gracious hosts, William and Betty Hurdle, for allowing us the opportunity to hold the 20th Chunk on their farm. We would also like to thank all the folks from Aveberry for their generosity.

I would like to recognize the Punkin Chunkin Association members who worked hundreds of hours setting up the field and moving all our equipment to and from the field of play. The ones who came and worked tirelessly know who they are, and the ones who didn’t come to work need to get involved.

Eric Nelson and his family spent endless hours coordinating the setup events. We are also very grateful to Harry Caswell Plumbing Inc., which lent countless pieces of the heavy equipment we needed to prepare the field and position the machines. We are also thankful to the Department of Correction for providing labor.

Junior Brewster and Jean Huber coordinated the parking and ticket areas. With the help of Andy Givens and all his great volunteers, we got a record number of cars and people into the Chunk. Gilbert Holt Jr. ran a shuttle bus to and from the satellite parking area.

Softball and baseball players and parents, U.S. military members from Fort Meade and the Delaware National Guard, ROTC groups and hordes of volunteers worked tirelessly — day and night — parking cars and monitoring the crowds.

Terry Brewster, association treasurer, and her staff ran the entire financial end flawlessly; they are to be commended.

Rita O’Neil had the overwhelming task of coordinating all the vendors in the midway, and for that we are truly grateful.

Sandy Elliott and Betty Hurdle once again organized and oversaw the very successful cooking contest that not only adds sparkle to the event but raises funds for charity.

Gilbert Holt Sr. and his entire security staff were on the grounds 24 hours a day, addressing problems as they arose. No matter what Gilbert asked, they did and did very well. They were the first to come to work on the field and the last ones to leave.

Chuck Burton and his Safety Committee worked to ensure we had a very safe Chunk.

John Collier and his measuring crew found, with the help of our spotter crews, every shot they needed to find. They all did and outstanding job.

John Huber, association vice president, handled all the problems on the firing line for the entire event. John addressed every chunker’s problem, and he still found time to compete in the Adult Catapult Division.

Last but not least, I would like to thank all the chunkers who traveled from around the world to make this event as great as it was. Without the players, there could be no game. They came ready to compete, and compete they did. The spectators came to see pumpkins fly and our teams launched approximately 4,000 of them through the skies of Sussex County. Thank you all.

Frank E. Shade
Punkin Chunkin Association president

Make sure to be registered for vote

On Dec. 3, residents of Dagsboro have a chance to make a difference. Residents will be voting to elect three members to the town council.

Voting will be at the Dagsboro Fire Hall from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Voters need to be aware of certain important information:

1) Even if you are registered to vote in national, state or county elections, you cannot vote in Dagsboro’s election unless you are registered with the town (the last day to register to vote is Nov. 18);

2) The town hall will be open special hours this week to allow residents to register to vote. Those special hours are 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17, and 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18 (regular office hours include Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.);

3) You are entitled to vote in Dagsboro if you are a citizen residing in the town, at least 18 years of age, or if you are a property owner who has registered in writing as qualified to vote for the property.

If you are concerned about the future of Dagsboro, I encourage you to register and get out and vote on Dec. 3. In addition, we are fortunate to have three enthusiastic, concerned and forthright new candidates who have filed for election to the three open seats: Patti Adams, Wayne Baker and Cathy Flowers. They are running as a team and I hope you will give them your support.
If you are worried about the future of Dagsboro, it’s roads, water and quality of life — take the time to vote. Complaining about traffic and development is one thing; voting for new leadership on the town council is the only way you can really make a difference. It’s time for a change, and these three candidates are committed to preserving the Dagsboro we cherish.

Terri Hearn

Dagsboro fire company should be thanked

I am writing to thank the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Company for sponsoring the Halloween Parade on Saturday, Oct. 29, at the fire hall.

I was a judge for several age groups and it was difficult to pick the best for each group. All of the children looked great and everyone had a wonderful time.

This event took a lot of thought and hard work to make it successful. These events remind me of how great it is to be mayor of a small town.

Again, I thank the Dagsboro Fire Company and Ladies Auxiliary for a very successful event.

Mayor S. Bradley Connor

Farmers do not deserve the ire of public

When I was growing up, people understood that farmers supplied the food we need to survive. They were, for the most part, respected, honest, hard-working individuals working sunrise to sunset. If you raised chickens or dairy cattle it was a seven-days-a-week job, 52 weeks a year.

Today the farmers are treated like environmental terrorists. With all of the new regulations for this and that, farmers may soon have to use solar power to run the family tractor.

The American farmer over the years has struggled and adjusted to the ever-changing mindset of our local and federal governments, as well as environmentalists.

My wife and I and our youngest son live on the family farm west of Millsboro. For nearly 100 years my wife’s family has been farming in Sussex County. I think it’s safe to say there won’t be 100 more.

I have worked for one of the larger poultry companies for the past 28 years as a safety professional. I have seen great strides in the poultry industry, from doing much of the work by hand to almost complete automation. There are more poultry houses in Sussex County per square mile than any other place in the U.S.A. Farming is and will always be a part of Sussex County.

The new folks that have moved here from wherever just don’t seem to understand our way of life. Before there was even Kentucky Fried Chicken it was our own Cecil Steele from little Ocean View that started the beginning of what is now the present-day poultry industry. I had the privilege of attending all 12 years of school with one of her grandsons at the old Lord Baltimore School in Ocean View.

It doesn’t matter if you are a vegetarian or a meat-eater — you still would not exist if we did not have farmers.

The cost of farming has gotten to the point of “why farm?” when you can’t make a living doing it. Corn has been in the neighborhood of two dollars for nearly thirty years. Can you say that about the price of gasoline or diesel fuel? Farming is about the only occupation I know where when you want to sell something the buyer tells you what he is going to give you for it, not what are you asking for it. Try that at Wal-Mart.

If we continue to overdevelop, overpopulate and over regulate, we will be fully dependent on other nations for our food supply. With this foreign supply comes mad cow disease, bird flu and harmful pesticides, and Lord knows what else.

Who in their right mind would want to be a farmer? Besides, we don’t need them to supply our food. We can just go to Wal-Mart or McDonalds. That’s where food comes from, right?

Please do not move here, and then complain about the smell of chicken manure, cost of septic tanks, taxes and honorable occupations — without which you would not survive.

Harry McClung

Bethany icon will most certainly be missed

We have lost Mary Murphy, a Bethany friend, and a community character to be cherished. When Mary came to live at Bethany Beach, she brought her brisk British accent, her boundless interest in Bethany affairs, and a well-honed talent for story-telling.

The stories, for the most part, were built around her family, that included “Murph” (her husband), four daughters and a son. But the Boston crowd did not escape in the telling, and the star character was often her father, chief of the Boston Fire Department.

The Murphy clan descended on Bethany after WWII. Several years later, “Murph” died suddenly on the golf course, leaving young Mary to raise the young children through the school years. After her youngest daughter married, Mary decided to throw in her lot with Bethany full-time, moving into her Second Street beach cottage with all the beach memories.

We often wondered, or mused about, how we did “before Mary came.” Her column, “The Beach Brume,” in the Wave, was a weekly must-read. The old Cadillac she drove could be seen at town meetings, St. Ann’s bridge games at the Leisure Center, and town elections, where she often worked at the polls. She served as grand marshal of the 1986 Fourth of July parade, and was honored by the Chamber of Commerce when she retired from her column in the Wave.

We members of the Historical Association will miss a faithful colleague. Mary was always an enthusiastic docent and supporter through our days at the Bethany Museum, which has had three sites over the past 15 years.

We will all miss a dear friend who held an important place in the life of Bethany.

Carolyn Hughes
Margaret Young
and the Bethany Beach Historical Association