Cestone returns to South Bethany council

With the town’s 2010 council and mayor elections complete, South Bethany’s town council took on a different face on June 5, with new mayor Jay Headman and two new council members, Sue Callaway and George Junkin. But those changes themselves served to bring back a familiar face for those who’ve attended council meetings in South Bethany: Bob Cestone.

Due to Headman’s election as mayor on May 29, he was forced to resign his council seat with a year left on his term. As per the town charter, the new council was given the responsibility of appointing, by majority vote, someone to complete that year-long term, and having met on the issue during reorganizational meeting, the council returned at their regular meeting on June 11 to name Cestone as its unanimous selection.

Cestone served on the South Bethany council from 2000 to 2006, opting not to run for re-election that final year.

“We’re very fortunate that Bob is stepping up to help us out,” Headman said after Cestone was sworn in once again. “He left the town council only because he was going to build his dream home. We’re fortunate that he’s willing to come back and join us.”

The council on June 11 voted unanimously, 6-0, to approve Cestone’s appointment to the year-long term.

“The residents of South Bethany have demonstrated confidence in Mr. Cestone by electing him for three terms to the Town Council,” Headman said after the meeting.

“Mr. Cestone is familiar with the issues facing the town, as well as the town code and procedures used in conducting council business. Mr. Cestone can definitely ‘hit the ground running,’ which is an important consideration when filling an unexpired term.”

Cestone did just that on June 11, taking his seat behind the council table immediately after his swearing in and voting on several issues later in that night’s meeting.

Junkin’s election as a council member, too, has forced a change. Junkin had to resign as a voting member of the town’s planning commission, though he will become the council’s liaison to the commission.

The council last Friday unanimously approved resident Dick Oliver, a former NOAA employee who runs his own consulting service, to replace Junkin on the commission. Oliver has served with the town’s Neighborhood Watch group for six or seven years, Headman said, and has also served on the town’s canal water quality committee.

Also on June 11:

• The council agreed to defer on a vote on an amendment to Chapter 145 of the zoning code that would further define structures allowed in setbacks – allowing swingsets, clotheslines, and recycling and trash bins to exist there by right. Councilman Tim Saxton said he had received further comment on the amendment from the mayor and council members and would bring the legislation back in July for a vote.

• Councilman Robert Youngs reported that the Assawoman Canal dredge project has been averaging 100 feet per day of progress, with 2,100 feet to go. The project’s permits have been extended until July 21, and officials said they expect it to be completed in that time.

• Councilman John Fields made the first report from the newly formed Richard Hall Memorial Park Committee, which will look at the possibility of creating a recreational area at the park, considering issues such as the legal and financial feasibility, as well as citizens’ desire or opposition to such a project. Fields said a mailed referendum is planned, with hopes of wrapping up the findings on the issue by September.

• Town Manager Mel Cusick reminded council members that the town’s annual update to its comprehensive plan is due by mid-July. The plan will be updated through work by the planning commission and council.

• Callaway asked citizens and visitors to refrain from cutting the wildflowers in the median of Route 1, as they are not weeds but wildflowers planted as a compromise when the town’s budget did not permit it to plant the full set of plants the Beautification Committee had hoped to place there. She promised the wildflowers would be in full bloom soon, if people can just be patient.

• South Bethany police reported a very busy May – a comment repeated by Ben Chandler, the town’s new beach patrol captain, who said the Memorial Day weekend had been the busiest he’d seen in eight years on the beach patrol. The police report for May included several incidents of false alarms and kayak thefts, as well as citations for a dog off the leash and several “senior week” vacationers who were charged with lewd conduct on the beach for the girls being topless and the boys being slightly bottomless.