Taking a look back at a very eventful year


As I started going back through the past year’s editions of the Coastal Point, I was floored by just how eventful a year it was. Now, to be fair, I’ve had a similar reaction nearly every year since we started this publication in February 2004. But this one had some major news happen — both on the positive side and the negative side.

Without further adieu, I offer up this summary of the news that really left an impact from the year that was.

January is a month of fresh starts, and the beginning of your year-long love affair with the Coastal Point calendar (yeah, it was a shameless plug. But we do still have a few left, so run in now while supplies last!). Sussex County Council started off the year with good news after a strong financial audit came in, but that was a little tempered by the news that County Adminsistrator David Baker announced his retirement.

A pair of high-ranking DelDOT employees were terminated following Monica Scott’s in-depth look at the proposed Route 113 bypass, and members of the community went ballistic following the killing of swans in White’s Creek by DNREC employees. I also resolved to lose weight this year, and cut back on my enjoyment of adult beverages. For the record, I cut back on the booze, but substituted cake and ice cream. Guess how the weight-loss efforts went.

February is the shortest month of the year, but it wasn’t lacking for news in 2011. Derrick Powell was found guilty of murdering Georgetown Police Officer Chad Spicer in September 2009. Carolann Wicks resigned her post as secretary of the DelDOT following the controversial Route 113 bypass project, and we did a three-part series on the growing problem with prescription drug abuse.

George Pickrell announced he would run against incumbent Ocean View Mayor Gordon Wood in the April election, and people at NRG and Bluewater Wind got excited that their project was getting some legs following a federal push to clear some of the red tape regarding wind power projects. I was cold. Life ain’t easy with no hair.

I love March. I love St. Patrick’s Day, and I spent a hunk of last March in Key West, celebrating said holiday, and putting a dent in my resolution to slow down the drinking for the year. Lloyd Elling announced he, too, would be running for the Ocean View mayoral job (a job I’m not sure I could be paid enough to tackle), and Gerry Hocker kept up the family political prowess by being named the new mayor of Millville. Selbyville saw the three incumbents race to victory in its town election, and the county Board of Adjustments started listening to arguments concerning the proposed AT&T tower near Bethany Beach. I wish I remembered more about March, but Key West was really a great time.

Flash forward to April, and you’ll find that the county BoA denied AT&T’s cellular tower plans, while Sussex County Council debated the merits of building a “casino district.” Gordon Wood won his seat back in Ocean View, and Tom Sheeran joined the council.

The Millville Volunteer Fire Company celebrated its 75th anniversary with a great block party, and an Ocean View police officer had a fight with a man along Route 26 in broad daylight — that man was identified as the suspect in a burglary at Banks’ Wine & Spirits, and was subsequently brought into custody. I lost a sock. It was indeed a nice sock.

May brings flowers, but it also maybe brought with it a little closure for the Spicer family. Powell was sentenced to death for his murder of Spicer two years earlier, and a memorial of Chad Spicer was unveiled in Georgetown.

Donald Hattier retained his seat on the Indian River School District School Board, vacationers came back to our community in a big way and Ocean View discussed its controversial sidewalk ordinance. I started up the lawn mower, cursed unusually loudly and embarked on another summer of fun.

June saw our kids get out of school for the summer, as well as the birth of the Sea Colony Farmers’ Market. LeAnn Rimes performed at the Freeman Stage, and Vicki Carmean announced she was retiring from the Fenwick Island Town Council.

The biggest news to come out of the month was the guilty finding in the case of Dr. Earl Bradley, the Lewes pediatrician accused of atrocities against children. That was unquestionably the ugliest story we have had to cover since we started the paper, and we really considered keeping out some of the testimony that was presented because we thought it would be too unsettling for some of our readers. In the end, we decided that people needed to know what some people are capable of, and we let it roll.

July brings fireworks, and it also brought some new faces to state and county offices. Shailen Bhatt was tabbed to be the new secretary of DelDOT, and Sussex County Council announced that Todd Lawson, a graduate of Sussex Central High School, would take over Baker’s old spot of Sussex County Administrator.

There was also a sad story regarding an 80-year-old man who died in Sea Colony from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning, and his sister was hospitalized due to the same problem. I watched the fireworks on television from my couch, and continued to work on building up my weight.

August is the birth month of our beloved publisher, Susan Lyons, as far as we can tell. Calendars really don’t go back far enough to confirm that. We can confirm, however, that the District III softball team from Laurel won the Senior League Softball World Series in Roxana. We also discovered that the Juust Sooup Kitchen Ministry was selected to receive an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition from the fine people at ABC. More on that later.

The popular Fenwick restaurant Catch 54 caught on fire, destroying the building, and natural disasters came our way via earthquake and hurricane. Dr. Earl Bradley was sentenced to 14 life sentences, plus 164 years, for his heinous acts.

I got something in my eye during August, but fear not — it’s out now.

September has a different meaning here than many other places, as the summer season winds down. And Bethany Beach once again did it justice with the Jazz Funeral.

The town also allowed us to host a candidate’s night in town hall for the town council election, which was ultimately won by the incumbents. Millville officials began discussions on a farmers’ market of their own. I managed to get behind every bus in the school district one morning coming in to work and I nearly lost all my hair.

Please, keep your comments to yourself on that one.

October is not only the month that contains my mother’s birthday, but also one that celebrates warlocks, ghosts and witches. I assure you that my mother’s birthday and the month of witches are not connected. Man, if she thought for even one second that I was trying to ...

But I digress.

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators made their way to Bethany Beach, and the final deck section of the new Indian River Inlet Bridge was poured. Sussex County Councilman Vance Phillips was involved in an accident while landing an aircraft, and Bethany Beach held a hearing on the controversial Assawoman Canal Trail. I dressed as a surly newspaper editor for Halloween, but nobody seemed to notice the costume.

November is the month to give thanks, and many of us in the community were thankful to see the Indian River High School football team finish off an undefeated regular season and roll into the state playoffs.

The Ocean View Town Council voted to oust then-Town Manager Conway Gregory, and Sussex County Council adopted new councilmatic districts. Police arrested an Ocean View man in connection with several burglaries in the area, and the Juust Sooup ministry was denied zoning to serve meals in the new building created for them by the Extreme Makeover team. I ate too much, watched a lot of football and just destroyed Shaun Lambert heads-up at the end of a poker tournament.

Tee hee.

December is probably the busiest month of the year for many of us, but it got off to a great start with Indian River winning the state football championship. I was at the Caribbean Christmas event held by the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation while they were playing that game, and the crowd went crazy whenever a score update was given.

This month has also seen the Ocean View Town Council lift a five-year censure on former council Bill Wichmann, and the county planning and zoning commission finally approved a yard-waste facility that had been sitting in limbo for seemingly all of 2011. Vance Phillips made it home to finish his recovery from his accident, an armed robber (at least one) has been robbing local businesses and the NRG/Bluewater Wind/Delmarva Power deal appears dead.

What a year!