A glance at a year full of tragedies and triumphs


Christmas is now safely in the rearview mirror, and with a shiny new year in the near future, it’s high time we all begin to look ahead to exciting possibilities and a clean slate.
Coastal Point •  Submitted

Well, hold that thought for a minute or two. Before we begin really getting into what 2013 might have in store for us, let’s take a look back at 2012 — a year that will be remembered by many in this community with fondness, and many others with despair. It was a year of seeing our little seaside oasis crawl out of the economic downturn a bit, and also some senseless crime and human loss. Without further adieu, let’s take a look back at 2012 ...

January comes in to each year with as much fanfare as any month in the calendar, and The Town of Bethany Beach started to move forward with hopes of building a new water tower in town. Police arrested two people in a series of local armed robberies that had many on edge, and the new year got off to that fresh start with the opening of the new Indian River Inlet Bridge. The Frankford Public Library secured $200,000 in grants for its expansion project and Chris Bason was named the new executive director of the Center for the Inland Bays. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear appeals in regards to the Indian River School District’s prayer in school board meetings debate, and I found myself going through tissue papers like they were ... tissues.

February is the shortest month of the year by number of days, but it often feels like the longest because of cold weather and a general slow environment in our community. Frankford voters decided to stay the course in their town council election, voting in incumbents Ron Atherton, Charles Shelton and Jesse Truitt. Over in Millville, that town’s council voted to start a farmers’ market of their own, and Ocean View lost three police officers to different departments, limiting their ability to provide 24-7 coverage in the town. I took great pleasure in watching the New England Patriots lose the Super Bowl, but suffered great misery when I lost a glove, giving me 492 single gloves without partners in my coat closet.

March is when those cold winter days begin to move aside for the joys of spring, but the month started out tough for many in the community when Nicholas Townsend, of Ocean City, was reported missing after his allegedly-stolen canoe capsized near Fenwick Island. Townsend’s body was eventually found, but he did not survive the ordeal. Two towns in our little community welcomed new town managers into the fold — Fenwick announced Merritt Burke to run the town’s administrative duties, and Ocean View hired Rick Konrad. There will be a little more on Konrad shortly. The Indian River School District’s Odyssey of the Mind teams showed their stuff again, winning three state championships for basically being smarter than everyone else. I, on the other hand, showed that I was not smarter than anybody else when I put my body through its annual rigors celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I still don’t know where I left my shoes and my unmatched gloves.

April showers might indeed bring May flowers, but April also brought a little bit of a scare when Howard T. Ennis and Georgetown Elementary Schools received bomb threats. Police arrested a former bus driver for the threats. A frustrated group of residents and business owners along Route 54 petitioned DelDOT to finish their work on the road before Memorial Day, and the Town of Selbyville put restrictions on alcohol sales and restaurants in the wake of a string of late-night violence and unrest. Rick Konrad — remember him — walked away from his new job as Ocean View Town Manager, leaving the town scrambling to get a replacement and blowing up his reputation in this area for the forseeable future in the process. Gerald Hocker announced he would run for Sen. George H. Bunting’s seat in the 20th Senatorial District, and Shirley Price announced she would be running for Hocker’s seat in the 38th Representative District. Bethany Beach officials discussed showing movies on the beach over the summer, and they eventually did just that. I got settled in for what would be a surprising season by my beloved Baltimore Orioles, and nearly killed myself lighting my grill for the first time of the season. Eyebrows eventually grow back, right?

May is the unofficial start to the summer season around here, and the Town of Millville got into the spirit when it voted to allow Perucci’s to feature outdoor dining. We also saw 200 jobs in the area get cut when Pinnacle Foods Group LLC decided to close its Vlasic plant in Millsboro, and the official dedication of the new Inlet bridge. On the personal side, I found a quarter. Heads-up. Take that.

June means kids are out of school to enjoy their summer vacations, and South Bethany welcomed Kathy Jankowski as its new mayor. Selbyville’s Alyssa Murray also made our entire community proud when she won the Miss Delaware pageant. But it was also a month full of tragedy. Millsboro’s Nicole Bennett was found murdered off a dirt road in Maryland, and a Penssylvania woman was found murdered in Dewey Beach. A 7-year-old girl near Frankford was also killed when the bicycle she was riding was struck by a drunk driver. It was a rough month.

July contains fireworks and parades, and Bethany Beach once again took center stage with its fantastic annual celebration. Mathew Burton of Dagsboro was arrested for Bennett’s murder, and a 71-year-old woman drowned off the South Bethany coast. On the positive side, Special Olympics held a succesful summer camp at Camp Barnes and Ocean View hired Dianne Vogel to serve as town manager. I got into the summer spirit by running my air conditioning entirely too much and might have accidentally eaten a fly. That’s a long story, though.

August contains my birthday, which I now loathe, and the Senior League Softball World Series in Roxana, which I love. Latin America beat the District III team for the championship of that event, and the community split a little bit over peacocks at James Farm. The Coastal Point lost a dear member of our little family when our delivery guru, Jeffrey Seyfert, passed away, and many of us in the area were saddened to hear that Carrie Subity would be leaving her post as executive director of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce. We ended the month with a hard-to-swallow tragedy with the passing of Indian River High School senior Jacqueline Pavik. Another tough month for our community.

September means those kids go back to school, and hearing began at the County level on the Castaways project, which would involve a campground, cottages and an amusement park on 38-plus acres near Cedar Neck Road. Burton was indicted in a Maryland court for his alleged involvement in Nicole Bennett’s murder, and Bethany Beach voters gave the go-ahead to town officials to start securing funds for the new town water tower. Longtime Millville councilman and mayor Tim Droney passed away, leaving a void in his wake. I discovered I had, in fact, swallowed that fly a few months earlier. Nobody wants to know how I confirmed this, so we’ll just move on from that.

October is when many of us who live here can slip away for a little vacation time after a busy summer, and the good vibes continued with Selbyville Police Chief Scott Collins being recognized as the top chief in the state. However, our year of tragedy continued with the death of Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Company’s Justin Townsend, a junior firefighter who passed away in a car accident while responding to a call. Following an intensive study of town salaries, Ocean View officials decided to adjust their employee’s income to keep up with other towns, and the Town also celebrated a new solar carport. The month ended with us dodging a figurative bullet from Hurricane Sandy, thought it was hard at the time to feel lucky with the rain, wind and flooding that pounded the area. I dressed as a middle-aged man who sometimes eats flies for Halloween.

November means elections, and this year saw some big ones in our area. Gerald Hocker left his seat in the 38th Representative District by winning the 20th senatorial District, and political newcomer Ron Gray took Hocker’s old representative seat. Millsboro’s Cullen Phillips was accused of murdering his step-father and police began a massive manhunt for him, and the Town of Bethany Beach found itself in a bit of a controversy after ticketing builders for working on Black Friday — though those fines were tossed out after officials looked into it deeper. A South Bethany fire took out two houses, and the Indian River School District School Board announced it would hold a referendum this coming January which would result in more classrooms being built. I ate far too much turkey at Thanksgiving, but that’s nothing new. In fact, I’m not even sure why I brought that up. I mean, I do the same thing every year, but I still ...

But I digress.

December is still going on, but we’ve already had some significant news come down the pike. For starters, it appears that Santa did indeed make his rounds, which was good news for many in the community. Dagsboro voters brough back a familiar face when they elected former mayor Brad Connor back to the town council, and also brought back incumbent Norwood Truitt. Sussex County Planning & Zoning finally voted on the Castaways project, deciding to not offer its support when/if it goes before Sussex County Council. There were rumors about something tragic happening at many local schools on Friday, Dec. 21, but all went well that day, and the Mayans were apparently wrong about our destruction. Word came down that the Big League Softball World Series will now take place in Roxana during the same week as the Senior League Softball World Series, starting this year, meaning that District III has done a fantastic job with the Seniors, and that good things continue to happen over there. I began my list of resolutions for 2013, but wondered again why I bother. It will be the same as 2012, which was the same as 2011, which was the same as ...

See what I mean?