Letters - March 11, 2005

State representative clears the air on archaeology issues

In the weeks that have passed since I unveiled my proposal to protect Delaware’s underwater archeological sites, there has been a great deal of misunderstanding about its scope and intent.

My proposal, which has yet to be drafted, seeks to protect undersea archeological sites from accidentally being destroyed by dredging or other underwater activities. The bill would allow the Delaware secretary of state to place a 90-day moratorium on any sub-surface activity that could damage an underwater site suspected of being historically important. The idea is to give state officials a chance to evaluate newly discovered seabed sites that may harbor significant artifacts or information about our past.

Dredging operations near Roosevelt Inlet last year apparently destroyed the site of a Colonial era shipwreck or village. Unfortunately, no one realized this until beachcombers began finding broken pottery and relics in the sand. Only a few small objects were left relatively undamaged by the dredging head.

Had my law been in place, and the artifacts discovered at the start of the operation, the secretary of state could have temporarily halted the dredging until the find was evaluated.

Delaware law already provides protections to archaeological and geological resources located on land (Title 7, Chapter 53). My proposal simply seeks to provide some protection to underwater sites.

Several other coastal states have already enacted similar laws. I plan to draw on this legislation as I draft my bill. Given our state’s long history, and its location along a heavily traveled waterway, I’m surprised this topic wasn’t addressed earlier.

Many people, having only heard rumors about what the bill would do, have let their imaginations run wild. Let me be clear. My proposal would not interfere with people enjoying our coastline. I also don’t foresee any circumstances under which it would hamper boating or any of the activities usually associated with our beaches.

Aside from people who have been misinformed about what this bill would do, the feedback I’ve received on the proposal has been generally favorable.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding. As always, please feel free to contact me if you should have any lingering questions.

Rep. Joe Booth
37th District

Council member should be careful with thoughts

Sussex County Council Member Vance Philips stated, “I look forward to the healthy debate this issue has inspired...”. While he was alluding specifically to how council members might be chosen in the future, he might as well be speaking to the larger issue that has caused citizens in this county to show renewed interest in how their council members are chosen. That is, how to bring the rampant development approved by the current council under some kind of reasonable control.

It’s important we all understand where Phillips is coming from on this issue. The day after his 2002 re-election, Phillips publicly stated, “To preserve farmland we have to preserve the farmer. Approving development in the eastern part of the county where tourism and a resort atmosphere exists takes the pressure off the central and western parts of Sussex. It’s going to be a challenge to find that balance.”

I would submit that just about everything the councilman has said or done since then reflects that attitude. However, he does seem to have gotten lost in his search for balance.

Mr. Phillips goes to some length to point out that even after his district was reconfigured to include some coastal areas, he still won the district by a huge margin. He said, “The 5th council district now encompasses the entire bottom section of Sussex County from the Mason-Dixon line to the Atlantic. He then went on to use that example as evidence that, “Folks should be careful of what they ask for.”

The inference seeming to be his 2002 victory proved he was popular enough with all type voters, whether they were coastal dwellers or farmers, to beat all challengers regardless of the voting method involved. Like most disingenuous statements there is an element of truth in his claim, but it is far from the whole truth.

First off, if people even bothered to think about it, they would probably consider all the area south of Indian River Bay as “the entire bottom half of Sussex County”. But that’s not how Councilman Phillip’s 5th district is drawn.

For instance, around the Millsboro area, the 5th district extends north of Indian River Bay (even north of RT 24). However, the district line then vertically drops south (even before it gets to the western shore of the bay) and instead of following the southern bay shoreline east to the ocean (which would seem to be a natural geographical boundary) the district line continues south. At a point far enough south so as to avoid the rapidly developing southern bay shore area it heads east in a straight line but then heads south again to avoid the populous town areas of Millville, Ocean View and Bethany. It’s then east again to the Atlantic coast where it proceeds south to the Maryland border. That swath of land left as a buffer between the bay’s populous southern shore and the northern border of District 5 is a portion of the gerrymandered 4th District, not the 5th.

With the exception of Fenwick Island, the only coastal area in the 5th District consists of Assawoman Wildlife Area and Fenwick Island State Park. Thus, until such time as the Sussex County Council permits seagulls to vote, coastal voting in Council District 5 will have very little, if any, meaningful impact on the voting outcome of that district, regardless of the candidate.

One does wonder if the council could have had that thought in mind when redrawing Mr. Phillips’ district in 2001. Bottom-line is that there is no meaningful voting history for Vance Phillips to conclude he would do well with coastal voters, despite the bravado of his comments.

Vance Phillips has never had to rely on a coastal vote to stay in office, and I frankly think his 2002 election victory statement is an honest expression as to his attitude on this matter.

The unanswered question, however, is, will the majority of county voters see that attitude working for or against their future aspiration in his re-election bid of 2006? I certainly hope, we the people, get the opportunity to effect a change in how our county council members are chosen so that Councilman Phillips can have his opportunity to demonstrate how well he would do with at-large voting.

Since the councilman has chosen to throw down the gauntlet I suggest all of you who are concerned about the future of this county accommodate Mr. Phillips by letting him, the news media and your elected representatives in Dover know how you feel on this matter.

The next meeting of Citizens for a Better Sussex (CBS) is at 7 p.m. on March 15 at the Lewes Library. If you would like to help create the opportunity for Mr. Phillips and his fellow councilmen to run for their seats on an AT-LARGE basis, we invite you to join us.

Allen Ide

Kindness of strangers shines through area

Last Thursday evening about 6:30 p.m., returning from shopping at Food Lion and Rite Aid, I let my dog “Misty” out while bringing in the groceries. Misty is 14 years young, has poor sight and hearing, and in the words of Doctor Farmer, “in her twilight years.”

Usually Misty is at my feet waiting for a goody, but not that night. She was gone. We live on Cedar Drive, about two blocks from the shopping center. Just minutes later, Misty was up and down the aisles at Food Lion and Rite Aid in search of me. At the Rite Aid, a kindly couple seeking to keep her out of harm’s way took her to their home in a white van. We found this out just minutes after they had left. We hoped then to find the white van, or that hopefully the people would contact us. We had no luck on Friday or Saturday. We combed the streets and developments of Millville and Ocean View. We contacted all the agencies and vets and we placed pictures wherever possible.

Saturday evening about six o’clock, my wife was almost home, on Cedar Drive, when she noticed a white van just four homes from us. These were the people that had befriended Misty. Unfortunately, they only had her a short while and she left them to face the rain and cold. My wife was distraught. Could our dog survive the elements and the traffic? Where could we search now? I was returning home from another search of Country Village and Country Estates, driving on Cedar Drive (one home away from the home of the white van), when I noticed a wet, white, disheveled bundle of fur pacing very slowly and painfully, waiting for me to bring her home.

I just wish to thank all the kind, courteous and sympathetic neighbors that listened to our tale of a lost dog and offered us hope. It is really comforting to find that even in these busy and hectic days, people can find time to be nice.

Burt and Clare King

Jefferson School thanks those who helped

On behalf of the students at The Jefferson School, I would like to thank all of the community sponsors, parents and volunteers who made the 2nd annual Elegant Evening of Laughter a tremendous success. The Arts & Science Theatre at Delaware Technical & Community College provided the perfect venue for the March 4 performances by Comedians Kyle Cease & Carlos Oscar, both from Los Angeles, Cal.

I’d like to thank the following businesses and individuals, without whom, the event would not have been possible. Many thanks to Comedic Underwriters: Ibach’s Candy by the Sea & Dolle’s Candyland, Gannett Publications Delaware Coast Press, Delaware Beachcomber and Delaware Wave, and Great Scott Broadcasting; Charlie Chaplin Sponsors: Skip & Veronica Faust, Prudential Gallo, REALTORS, and Tunnell & Raysor, P.A.; Jack Benny Sponsors: Cloud 9 Restaurant & The Peninsula on the Indian River Bay; Jerry Lewis Sponsors: The Cape Gazette, Grotto Pizza, Jack Lingo REALTOR, & Susan & Troy Selph; Lucille Ball Sponsors: A.J. Gregory, Inc., Beitzel Cabinet & Millwork, Crab Barn Steakhouse, Delmarva Temporary Staffing, Doug’s Custom Fireplaces, Key Advisor’s Group, LLC, Preston’s Millsboro Auto Mart & Roll-A-Way of Delmarva; Jackie Gleason Sponsors: Atlantic Color Lab, John Barbarulo, JGF Trucking Company, Paul C. Peet, Neurology, Shore Electric, Chip Wheeler and George Bednar; Milton Berle Sponsors: Betty Anderson, Barbara Brittingham, Bayberry Flowers, CAMP Rehoboth, Delaware Appliance Distributors, Inc., Delmed Health Gynecology & Obstetrics, Frozen Tundra Restaurant & Bar, First State Chevy Kodiak, Kersey Homes, Inc., Law Office of Schab & Barnett, P.A., Sea Bova Associates and Windsor’s Flowers & Plants.

I’d also like to thank the following businesses and individuals for providing raffle items and making in-kind donations: Bellinger’s Jewelers, The Bellmoor Inn, CAMP Rehoboth, Cloud 9 Restaurant, Comfort Inn of Georgetown, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Grand Rental Station, One Spirit Massage, Paradise Florist, Phillips Signs, Teller Wines.

Of course, the success of the fundraiser should also be credited to the following committee members who put in so much time and effort ... Patricia Anderson, Nancy Bellinger, Mindi Carter, Janice Ferneyhough, Adriane Gallagher, Kelly Harp, Stacy Hollingsworth, Linda Nielsen, Sue Timmons and Beverly Wenner.

Patricia Ratner
Event Chair

Editor has crossed the line with tone of column

Editor’s Note: This letter is in response to a joke about my father in my last column. Apparently, the joke misfired.

After I left Mass [Sunday] morning, I stopped at the Wawa for a cup of coffee and picked up a copy of the Coastal Point on my way out. I’ll never pick it up again, and here’s why.
I am totally annoyed right now with Darin McCann. I’m thinking that maybe he needs to see a mental health professional, maybe he already does.

Did that happen to you, Darin? Did you wake up one Christmas morning hoping for your new bike only to find your father like that? God bless the child, any child that this would happen to. However, I take offense with your description of that fateful morning. My father is from Belfast, Northern Ireland, as am I. I’ve never had the misfortune you portray. My father was always a strong provider, he worked hard in this country to get what he has and to make sure that my sister, my four brothers and myself were well taken care of. My three sons’ father is also from Co. Tryone, Northern Ireland. He works hard as hell everyday right here in this community.

I’m getting a little tired of your stereotyping of the Irish. My mother’s maiden name was McCann, from Belfast, bless her heart and she’d turn over in her grave right now to think that someone with her name would portray the Irish people as you do.

Russians like their vodka, Italians enjoy their wine — but if the Irish have a cocktail, they’re to be ridiculed and slandered? I’m a pretty passive person. This is probably the first time I’ve ever written to an “editor.” In my opinion, the Irish are the most caring, heartwarming, welcoming people I know.

You’re the editor. Freedom of speech, I do believe in it. However, I think you carried this too far, and I for one am insulted. Maybe you are just an insensitive individual, or maybe your second round at the beach should be enough.

Thank God, I’ll never again have to read “But I digress...”

P.S. Northern Ireland and Michael Jackson? What is that?

Tricia McNamee
Ocean View

Lawsuit against school district is maddening

As I sat reading the latest publication about the Indian River School District being sued in federal court by a student’s mother who is upset over a two- or three-minute prayer during the 2004 graduation, I felt sick to my stomach.

They claim their religious beliefs have been stepped on by the board, all because of a prayer said before the meetings. A prayer that they will hopefully make the right decisions for our youth to better shape their future. It is now March 6, 2005, almost 10 months after the graduation and my religious beliefs have been stepped on both privately and publicly in the newspaper by this family every month of the 10.

Our country was founded by religiously oppressed people in 12 colonies and a 13th colony of thieves. The people who founded our country wanted to practice their faith without argument or opposition with everyone respecting each other’s beliefs and everyone living together in harmony. There were very few who wanted to seclude themselves from each other.

During this same 10 months, our country has gone through the political process of electing a president. In most of the hundreds of speeches, we saw every political person end with the small prayer, “And may God bless the United States of America.” Now the president does this at every turn and no one says anything.

I think a lot of people today should research their country’s history on this matter and as long as we have trouble makers like these and the ones we are dealing with in the Middle East we all had better keep asking that “God will please keep blessing the United States of America.” Maybe we should say a prayer for our school board members, too?

John R. Townsend Jr.