Lifelong local residents Clarence “Bud” Tingle and his wife, Diane, have made a habit out of serving their community: both are members of town councils in separate towns in southeastern Sussex County.
“It’s – ballpark – 20 years that I’ve been on Selbyville Town Council,” Bud Tingle said of the five-member body. He also served on the Fenwick Island Town Council in the 1970’s.
Diane Tingle has been on the seven-member Fenwick Island town council for almost four years now. She currently serves as its secretary.
The couple’s history in the area dates back far before their council days. Diane Tingle was one of the original waitresses at the Warren’s Station restaurant in Fenwick Island, and Bud Tingle’s father built Fenwick’s Tingle Motel, which went on to become the Sands Motel. The two were both students at the Selbyville School, and both graduated from Salisbury College. Bud Tingle was also a member of the Coast Guard.
After college, Diane Tingle taught public school for seven years, and then was an instructor and department chair at Delaware Technical and Community College for 27 years.
Bud Tingle taught math in Worcester County, Md., and was also a charter-boat captain in Ocean City, Md. Both are now retired and split their time between their home in Selbyville and their cottage in Fenwick Island.
“We both grew up in small towns, and we always knew every body,” Diane Tingle said. “When I retired, I figured that would be the time I could [participate in town council].”
Bud Tingle was asked by several council members and the mayor of Selbyville to run for that town’s council, so he did, and he has been there ever since. He said the biggest change he has witnessed in Selbyville is its growth.
“The town’s probably close to doubled itself in size,” he said. “Not population-wise, but in area.”
Diane Tingle served on the committee on the hiring of the first-ever town manager of Fenwick Island four years ago.
“That was a big change for Fenwick, to have a town manager,” she said.
Both agreed that Sussex County is changing – both in the coastal region and farther inland.
“After Labor Day, you could go lay out in the highway, because it was over. Nobody was here,” Diane Tingle said.
Bud Tingle pointed out that Fenwick Island is nearly as built out as it can get. But he said he expects Selbyville to see more development on property that the town has annexed into town limits in recent years.
The Fenwick Island and Selbyville town council meetings are usually relatively calm, according to the Tingles, with the same 10 to 15 citizens regularly attending.
“As long as everything is going smoothly – you know, no waves – everyone’s pretty well happy,” Bud Tingle said.
He also said the council members themselves get along very well, and Diane Tingle said the same of the Fenwick Island council members.
“Everyone is there for the benefit of the town,” said Bud Tingle.
And both agreed that opinions have no place in the town council.
“I believe in having your factual information and doing your research and knowing what you’re talking about,” Diane Tingle said. “I like to be there and listen to everybody’s perspective.”
Diane Tingle said she has yet to decide whether or not she will run for council again in Fenwick Island’s August 2010 elections, but Bud Tingle said he may be ready to give up his seat on the council in Selbyville when his current term ends in March of 2011.
“I think it’s time to let someone else have a chance,” he said.