Well, here we are. The end of another year, and the start to a new one — filled with promises to ourselves to lose weight, stop smoking, learn a foreign language, save more money and visit more exciting places.
And the great part of it is we get to start the next year with the same resolutions. Wait. That’s just me?
Regardless, 2015 was a year that truly left a mark on our community, both on the good side of the metaphorical ledger and the bad. While researching back through all the papers we published this year, a few thoughts hit me like a ton of bricks: First, I don’t think any of us realize just how much goes on in this sleepy little community until we really stop and take stock of it all. And, second, no matter what happens here, good or bad, the area keeps on trucking, and that’s good in real life or “Smokey and the Bandit.”
There were a few significant issues that took place this year that I’m not going to get into in this space because it would both fill the entire paper if I tried, and because some are just not yet resolved, such as the South Bethany/FEMA Battle Royale over flood maps. The Fenwick Island hotel/motel debate would simply take too much space if I tried to tackle it properly, so as important as that subject is, I just couldn’t get into it here.
So, buckle up and take a seat in our time machine as we go zooming through some of the important things that took place around here in 2015.
January means we get to hang up our new Coastal Point calendars (shameless plug), laze out on the couch with the newest edition of the Coastal Point (another plug) and curl up with a cup of coffee while enjoying the “Point of No Return” (last plug, I swear). In 2015, we saw the Ocean View Police Department get aggressive in their battle against the area’s growing heroin problem, securing a K-9 officer, increasing training and carrying anti-overdose medication. The Route 26 detour kicked off Jan. 5, Rob Arlett was sworn in as a Sussex County council member and the Indian River School District approved a sex-ed curriculum. South Bethany locked down 24-7 police coverage for the town, and Nate Hudson resigned as the lone police officer in Frankford. Resignations in Frankford will become a trend in 2015. On a personal note, I lost my war with my resolutions at about 7:30 a.m. when I ate a bacon cheeseburger and washed it down with a glass of Tullamore Dew.
February is the shortest month of the year, but it was filled with excitement in 2015. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers entertained public comment on their aquaculture plans, and probably got much more than they bargained for in the first place. Veronica Melson joined Frankford Town Council, and Joanne Bacon won re-election. Harris Teeter announced they were going to close their Salt Pond location, setting off a flurry of rumors that everyone from the major box stores to Santa Claus’ workshop would soon be sitting in its place. Yet, still it sits empty. ACTS donated $30,000 to the Millville Volunteer Fire Company, so they could buy two of the three LUCAS chest compression systems they desired for their ambulances, and some business owners on Route 26 voiced their displeasure with construction and detours on the road. On a personal note, I went on a nine-hour drive with a 3-month old baby who was apparently in training for a future in horror films as a screamer-extraordinaire. She seems to be on track.
March is a month of natural rebirth around us, and a strange four-day hangover that seems to cling to me on March 18 every year. This past March we saw Dennis Schrader resign as solicitor of Frankford, and Seashore State Park re-open with a bigger and better version of itself. The Freeman Stage also announced its schedule of entertainment for the year, leaving people at our office scrambling through their calendars to mark what dates they wanted to attend. The mother of the 4-year-old girl who had inadvertantly brought 249 bags of heroin to her daycare facility in Selbyville received one year of probation. One year. Of probation. For what could have turned into the worst tragedy this entire community has ever seen, and most likely would have been were it not for spectacular efforts by the staff there to recognize the problem quickly and notify authorities. One year. Of probation. On a personal note, I was not happy about the punishment handed down to a certain individual.
April showers brought an end to the Bethany Beach Streetscape project, and businesses downtown were in celebration mode as that construction came to a close. Carol Bodine was elected to the Ocean View Town Council, and DelDOT announced an alternate bypass project for Route 113 that created a lot less rage than the old Blue Route. Frankford hired Michael Warchol to fill their chief of police opening, and Millville approved a preliminary design for the town’s new municipal building. On a personal note, I decided to stop and smell the roses with the dawn of spring. I got stung by a bee, fell back from the shock of it and landed in a pile of manure. I will no longer stop and smell the roses.
May is when this area annually hits its stride and, as schools were finishing up for the year, a lot was still going on with the Indian River School District. Charles Bireley won his bid for re-election with the school board as he entered his 38th non-consecutive year serving the families and children of this community. Indian River High School’s Jennifer Cordrey was named the District’s teacher of the year, and Clayton Elemntary School counselor Jan Bomhardt was recognized as the state’s top counselor. Shaun Fink resigned from the school board over a fundamental disagreement he had with the rest of the members for allowing homosexuality to be discussed in the schools and the Indian River girls soccer team advanced all the way to the state championship game. Carol Stevenson, Wayne Schrader and Frank Weisgerber were all elected to South Bethany Town Council, and the Route 26 nighttime lane closures began. On a personal note, I vowed to finally get into that rhinestone-encrusted thong by Labor Day. Spoiler alert: I did not.
June is the month that typically sees vacationing families start to come down for summer vacations as schools around the region come to a close, and many rental agencies reported that this was indeed a strong rental season throughout the community. We also saw Selbyville’s Brooke Mitchell be crowned Miss Delaware and the town shine even more with the return of Old Timer’s Day. Unfortunately for Selbyville, they also saw Bob Dickerson step down as the Town adminstrator. Richard Mais was appointed to Fenwick Island Town Council to replace Todd Smallwood, and Millsboro Town Council elections led to Bradley Cordrey and James Fells winning seats. Millville announced it was buying a lot on Dukes Drive to build a park and playground, as that town continues to grow under-the-radar, and without a lot of controversy. On a personal note, I flew out to Vegas to see my little sister get married, and there’s a chance I spent a little time in a poker room. A lot of time in a poker room.
July is probably our busiest month down here at the beach, and this year was no exception as fireworks filled the sky and parades owned the day. Fundraisers were in high gear for the family of Alana Rose Prettyman, a.k.a. “Baby Alana,” who was suffering from a rare genetic disease, and Pomeroy’s Tavern burned to the ground, with arson later cited as the cause. Mike Deal was named the new administrator of the Town of Selbyville, and he got to jump right into a headache when a water main broke and drained the town’s water towers. On a personal note, I lost a sock. Stupid sock.
August is everything one would associate with “the dog days of summer” — hot, sticky, traffic-filled roads and just a generally-tired looking group of people who work in our little slice of paradise. But there is also a lot of excitement around here in August, starting with the Senior League and Big League Softball World Series games played over in Roxana. This is truly an amazing event. A few elections also took place locally this past August, with Richard Mais, Gene Langan, Roy Williams and Julie Lee winning seats in Fenwick Island, and Jerry Morris actually stepped in for Jerry Dorfman in Bethany Beach without an election this year. Jesse Truitt resigned his seat on the Frankford Town Council, followed later in the month by the resignation of Velicia Melson. There were also some bad moments locally this past August, as a man passed away in a fire in Ocean View and a father accidentally shot his daughter in the leg at their Ocean View home. On a personal note, I got to work on my tan at the World Series games and got into a wrestling match with a dirty diaper that haunts me to this day.
September sees kids return to school, and this area saw true heroes come to the beach during the annual Operation SEAs the Day event to honor wounded service members and their families. Terry Truitt resigned as town administrator in Frankford, and the Town saw a bit more controversy when Marty Presley and Elizabeth Carpenter were appointed to fill empty seats on council without a full quorum. The Millville Town Council approved its new municipal building, and the Indian River School District hit the 10,000-student mark for the first time in history as officials discussed how to deal with the growing population. On a personal note, we got through our Labor Day issue without anybody getting a serious injury, which, you know, is a good thing.
October is the time for ghosts and goblins, and the Ocean View Police Department got into the swing of things with their Cops & Goblins event at John West Park. That event was a bigger success than I think anybody anticipated, and the police are excited about the next one already. Because of a lack of quorum, Millville decided to disband their Planning & Zoning Commission, and the state approved a 90-bed psychiatric hospital in Georgetown. On a personal note, I watched my Baltimore Orioles not win a World Series, which, you know, is not a good thing.
“November Rain” is one of my favorite songs of all time, but November rain is a pain in the neck. I just say that because... oh, I have no idea. Bear with me. It’s a long year. This past November saw the Indian River High School boys soccer team win the state championship, which was pretty darn awesome. The Town of Bethany Beach, Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and a group of businesses in the town also announced their Weekend Wonderland schedule, which I thought added a lot to the Christmas atmosphere of the area. Ocean View Town Councilman Tom Sheeran, one of my personal favorites in the area, passed away, which leaves a hole in that town, but things have been running pretty smoothly there for several years, and they should still be able to move forward. On a personal note, my daughter turned 1, which was also pretty darn awesome.
December brings with it a slew of religious holidays, and this area got into the Christmas spirit once again. That Weekend Wonderland in Bethany Beach? A blast. As were a slate of Christmas parades and tree-lightings. SDSA students packed up a bunch of supplies for area homeless shelters, and South Bethany officials were examining new ways to clean the water in its canals. Elizabeth Carpenter resigned from Frankford Town Council, continuing a year of change for that town. And the entire community mourned the loss of Baby Alana. The Indian River School District was looking at a policy change regarding staff members giving rides to students and communicating on social media, and lots of other things happened — which you can find in this week’s Coastal Point (last plug, I swear). On a personal note, I am putting together a list of resolutions for the new year, and stocking up on ice cream to make myself feel better when they all crash and burn.
Happy New Year!