Letters: 2005-11-11

Local twirlers raise money with help

On Friday, Oct. 28, the Starlites Baton & Colorguard teams held a Twirlathon benefit to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, particularly a twirling team from Slidell, La., the Twirling Sensations.

I am proud to say that the girls worked very hard. They twirled for over five hours straight and raised over $950, which will be used for uniforms and equipment for the Twirling Sensations.

I want to thank all the girls who participated: Ellyn Rozell, Brooke Mitchell, Megan Hamilton, Erin Bunting, Chelsea Zweigle, Logan Galbreath, Madison Galbreath, Jackie Toggart, Stephanie Timmons, Rebecca Polly, Paige Valley, Taylor Pridgeon and Kami Brittingham. Also thanks to their parents and families who helped with the event.

Special thanks to the Starlites coach, Sandy Mitchell, for her dedication and support to the team and this event, to Ken’s Bayside for helping us with pizza and drinks, and to the Roxana Fire Company for letting us hold the event at their fire station.

Final thanks go out to the following individuals and businesses whose generous donations made our event successful: Sen. George Howard Bunting Jr., the law offices of Scott and Shuman LLC, Southern Delaware Sports & Rehab, Grotto Pizza, Greg C. Bunting Inc. and all the friends and families who sponsored the Starlite team members.

Mary Ellyn Rozell

Writer confused about density allowed in town

Mark Twain once said, “The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.” Well, that’s how we feel about the Dagsboro Town Council’s most recent about-face decision to approve the General’s Greene project in Dagsboro.

In August 2005, at a packed public hearing, Council Members Connor, Engh. Czapp and Kollock told the General’s Greene representatives that three units per acre was “enough density” for this parcel; anything more than three units per acre (for a total of 345 new units) would be “too many.”

They suggested the developer come back with three units per acre. Then, lo and behold, at the Oct. 24 regular town meeting, Council Members Connor, Engh, Czapp, Kollock and Hall voted in favor of 3.7 units per acre — for a total of 430 new units.

What caused this miraculous change of hearts and minds? Why were 3.7 units per acre “too many” in August, but “just right” in October? Has a bypass reduced Dagsboro’s traffic congestion problem? Have residents demanded more density, more apartments and townhouses? Is it because General’s Greene promised a circle of 31,000 square feet of “open space” in the development? (Parenthetically, that is a whopping 3/4 of an acre out of more than 100 acres).

Well, maybe. We doubt we’ll ever know the real answer.

We do wonder, though, what powerfully persuasive arguments were made to the Council at its special meeting on Oct. 11? “What special meeting?” you may ask. The special meeting convened on Oct. 11 that was likely held at the behest of, or to accommodate, General’s Greene.

Oh, that’s right, there were no non-councilmen residents of Dagsboro who attended the Oct. 11 “special meeting” — just Council members, staff, a reporter from The Wave and, of course, General’s Green representative Dennis Schraeder.

Yes, sir, mighty accommodating, we’d say. And it might explain that mysterious change of heart, too. Like Twain said, the more they explain it, the more we don’t understand it. Then again, we’re not sure we want to understand it, either.

Gayle and Bill Chandler

Dagsboro not telling residents about water

On Oct. 24, 2005, the Dagsboro Town Council held its regular monthly meeting. All five members of the Council knew an important fact of which no one else in town had been informed — Dagsboro’s municipal water contained abnormally high levels of trichloroethylene (TCE).

Although an Artesian Water Company representative was also present for the meeting, not one member of the Council took the opportunity to warn the citizens in attendance that Dagsboro’s water was contaminated and was not fit for human consumption. It is true that letters were eventually mailed to all residents, but why was no one concerned enough about public safety to make a simple announcement at the meeting?

In addition, with only about 60 residents connected to central water (some with infants and small children in their households), would it have been too much to ask the town’s secretary to make personal phone calls to each connected household as soon as the TCE was discovered?

Although Dagsboro’s Council members implicitly dismissed the risk from TCE as minor, I doubt their own family members were still drinking the water after they discovered it was contaminated.

Patty Adams

November is a month to care for family

An open letter to family caregivers:

Yearly, November is designated as National Family Caregiving Month. It is one month, 30 day, that have been set aside to honor, thank and give recognition to those selfless persons who squeeze the time to care for a loved one or friend-in-need into already very busy schedules.

You know who you are. Maybe your caregiving began as visiting once a week to just “check in on” mom or dad or Aunt M. or neighbor Ted. Maybe it progressed to cooking the week’s meals to be sure they were receiving some quality nourishment or driving to the never ending stream of doctor’s appointments.

Just when it was that they moved into you home or you theirs, may now have become a blur — and really not too important. Oh, but to be sure, when the caregiving began to include bathing, dressing, and maybe incontinence care as well, is etched in your memory. The sleepless nights, or missed days at work, or “staying in” instead of “going out,” have been accepted as a part of providing loving care.

As the manager, care coordinators, and caregivers of the Sussex County office of Griswold Special Care, we know many of you and we know firsthand the sacrifices you make each and every day. We are honored to be of assistance to you, and your loved ones by being your eyes, ears and hands when you need to be at work, away for much needed respite, or just unable to provide hands-on care.

We want you to know one month, 30 days, is not enough time to thank you for all you do. Please know we honor, respect and salute you.

Happy National Family Caregivers Month.

Please call (302) 644-6990 if we can be of assistance to you.

You are cordially invited to join us in our open house celebration Friday, Nov. 18, from 12 to 3 p.m. at 109 Market Street in Lewes.

Cheryl Jankowski
Manager, staff and caregivers
Griswold Special Care

Charitable foundation needs help of area

Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation needs your help.

The QRCF is planning its 2005 holiday party. The party is open to the public and will include lots of food, beverages, entertainment and an auction. Last year’s event produced over $9,000 for scholarships and grants, and we hope to generate even more this year.

As you may know, the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation (“QRCF”) is a nonprofit organization established by the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce, to support the local community through scholarships and grants.

Each year, the QRCF has awarded numerous college scholarships to local students as well as grants to local organizations to improve the quality of life in our area. More information about the QRCF is available at quietresortsfoundation.org.

This year’s party will be a Caribbean Christmas gala at Mango’s on Saturday, Dec. 3, and will feature both live and silent auctions of merchandise and art from the Bethany-Fenwick-Selbyville community.

The purpose of this letter is to ask you to donate any “auctionable” item of $50 or more for this very worthy fundraising event. Please contact Bob Volpe at (302) 841-4800 and we will be happy to pick up your gift for the auction. In advance, we thank you.

Please donate.

Your gift is tax deductible and is an important investment in the community.

Bob Volpe
Gala Chairman

NARFE does work for members — and more

What is NARFE, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association?

NARFE, formerly the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, is one of America’s oldest and largest associations. It was founded in 1921 with the mission of protecting the earned rights and benefits of America’s active and retired federal workers.

The largest federal employee/retiree organization, N ARFE has a membership of nearly 400,000 men and women and represents the interests of nearly 2.3 million federal retirees, spouses and survivors. Locally, NARFE has a membership of about 500, representing over 2,000 federal employees, retirees and survivors.

There are those who feel that NARFE is a very selfish organization working solely for the benefits of its members. I see NARFE as working to protect the benefits that all federal employees and retirees were promised in lieu of salaries generally 20 percent below their civilian counterparts. The work of NARFE is necessary to keep many federal retirees from falling into poverty due to the unconstrained spending of our Congress.

The organization continually monitors congressional activities for early identification of legislation, which would be detrimental to its members and potential members. In recent years, members of Congress have repeatedly proposed legislation that would lower the retirement benefits by such moves as using a high five years computation for pensions rather that the current high three years.

Other proposals would have the government pay a smaller percentage of the retiree health insurance premiums and to postpone the effective dates for COLAs, cost of living adjustments. Through the actions of friendly members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, NARFE has been able to deter these legislative measures thus far.

NARFE’s two primary national legislative issues are the Premium Conversion Bill (HR 994 and S. 484), and the repeal of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) (S619 and HR 147).

Near the end of his last term, President Clinton signed an executive order allowing federal employees and most corporate employees to pay their health insurance with pretax income. Retirees were not covered by this order. NARFE contends that retirees should have also been covered and has had legislation introduced to allow federal and military retirees to pay their health insurance with pretax dollars which would save retirees $300 to $500 annually.

Each year, NARFE has been able to get a majority of the representatives and many senators to cosponsor the bills but has not been able to get them out of the Ways and Means Committees. In Delaware, Sen. Biden is the only member of Congress to sign on to the bill.

The second priority issue, the GPO and WEP legislations, were passed in record time, allowing for little understanding for those voting for them. The GPO reduces any Social Security spousal benefits by an amount equal to two-thirds the federal retiree’s annuity. The rationale used by Congress is that they consider two-thirds of federal annuities to represent Social Security.

WEP reduces any earned monthly Social Security benefit that a federal retiree might have by as much as $300 per month. The rationale used by Congress is that, with so many years not covered by Social Security, the calculation process considers the retiree to be in a low income category.

It is hardly fair to take the earned Social Security benefits from employees after they have worked for years to earn them. To claim that two-thirds of such non-covered pensions represent Social Security is arbitrary and totally unfair, especially when the two-thirds exceeds the maximum under Social Security.

When these changes took place, many of the federal retirees affected by these legislative actions had already invested 15 to 25 years of their lives with the government. This legislation is especially unfair to those employees and retirees who switched to FERS without being informed that their Social Security benefits would be cut if they had less than 30 years of creditable work under Social Security when they retired.

NARFE’s local priority is HB 97 that would exclude up to one-half of CSRS annuities from Delaware state income taxes. It is ironic that while Congress reduces our Social Security benefits because they consider two-thirds of our annuities to represent Social Security, the state refuses to allow an exclusion for our annuities while totally excluding Social Security and railroad pensions.

Walt Berwick