A walk back down memory lane


History will not remember 2009 fondly.

Many in our nation, and globally, were hit hard by a struggling economy. Acrimony in politics reached new levels of silliness. An attempted bombing of a commercial flight on Christmas nearly turned tragic. And though I was proud of the 37 pounds I lost, I’ve been a bit chagrined at the 7 pounds I’ve managed to put back on since Thanksgiving. Chagrined, not surprised.

It was an eventful year, and one that will stay in the minds of many forever. Good or bad, 2009 was a year that left an impact.

Locally, we weren’t exactly insulated from the national and international trends. The economy took a hit in our community. Crime seemed to run rampant. And local politics sometimes turned ugly. Oh, there were plenty of good things to come out of this year, and there will be plenty more in 2010. Without further ado, let’s take a look back at the happenings in our area during 2009.

January opened with a fresh slate for a new year. Vance Phillips stepped in as Sussex County president, and Joan Deaver joined the council, bringing one of its most vocal critics to one of its top seats. The Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce kicked things off with the Leo Brady Exercise Like the Eskimos event, and Hometown Pet Show. Bethany Beach started its new ambulance service, and Democrats took control of the state House for the first time since 1984. On a personal note, I blew four New Year’s resolutions out of the water by noon on New Year’s Day.

February is the shortest month of the year, but it was long on stories to remember last year. To deal with less revenue, Sussex County Council offered volunteer week-long furloughs to county employees. Candidate ineligibility caused Frankford to cancel what would have been the town’s first election in eight years, and the Chamber held its annual Valor Awards luncheon to recognize emergency personnel who stood out for their bravery. The Selbyville Public Library named Pam Munro its new director and South Bethany’s Melvin Cusick was named town manager of the year for the state. I came out of my house and saw my shadow — and nobody cared.

March began with a late snow storm dropping 3-4 inches of the white stuff on us, but things heated up when the Indian River School District’s Odyssey of the Mind team won three awards at the state event. Donald Minyon, Richard Thomas and Michael Jeffers came out on top during the Millville Town Council election, and Wanda Powell and Mary Hocker Collins discussed the history of the area for the Ocean View Historical Society. I found a nickel. Named it Bennie. We are still very happy together.

April showers may indeed bring May flowers, but it also brought some changes to the local scene as Bob Lawless was sworn in to the Ocean View Town Council and Win Abbott was made the new town manager of Fenwick Island. Following a major expansion project, the community rejoiced a bit as the new and improved South Coastal Library opened its doors. My last resolution bit the dust in a cloud of Twinkies wrappers.

May always brings a new beginning to our little coastal oasis, and South Bethany Town Council took a look at its new make-up with Timothy Saxton, Robert Youngs and Jay Headman winning election. A rash of burglaries hit many local businesses, and Indian River School District (IRSD) teachers openly protested proposed cuts in their pay. One thing that did not change in the IRSD was Charles Bireley, who again won his seat in an election. Tried on a new bathing suit — it fit like previous ones. It’s now in the landfill.

June sees students run out the doors of their school when the classes take a summer break, and the replenishment project was finished in Bethany Beach. The Army National Guard started looking at renewable energy for its Bethany base, and the Fenwick Island and Bethany Beach farmers’ markets opened up for the season. Thurman Adams, who had served the state for 37 years, and most recently acted as Delaware Senate President Pro Tempore, passed away, leaving a tough void to fill. My Orioles had their annual “June Swoon” and fell out of contention in the American League East. I swear, just one time I’d like to see them get their act toge...

But I digress.

July offers fireworks, and Bethany Beach pulled them off this year after a little hiatus. Crime in the area continued to rise with a rash of bicycle thefts, and the tough news kept coming when it was announced that Municipal Street Aid was cut, crippling the plans of many towns to improve their streets. Vickie York at the Beach merged with Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s, and Joe Booth won a run-off for Adams’ seat. I went back to my hometown and watched the fireworks burst over the Washington Monument, and remembered again how much I dislike the smell of body odor as I crammed into a Metro to get back to my hotel.

August is hot. Always has been, always will be — well, until that next pesky Ice Age hits. Sussex lifeguards were also hot this year, as they finished fourth overall in the United States Lifeguarding Association’s national competition. Bethany Beach did some research into solar power and Millville Town Council instituted a rental tax. Oh yeah, I turned 40. And there was much rejoicing ...

September started out tough for all of us this year, as senseless violence took the life of Georgetown Police Ptlmn. Chad Spicer and wounded Cpl. Shawn Brittingham. There really are no words to explain what happened that horrific night, but the memories will hang on forever. However, there were some positives to take out of September, as well. My dear friend Monte Wisbrock was justifiably awarded the prestigious Lighthouse Award by the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce for all he has done for both the Chamber and community. Jerry Dorfman, Joe Healy and Carol Olmstead came out on top of the Bethany Beach Town Council election, and Ocean View nixed non-resident voting. South Bethany celebrated its 40th birthday with a lot more optimism and good cheer than I did my own.

October is the month of scary sights, and we all got one when a double nor’easter rolled through our community. Millville began converting to five-digit addressing, and Ocean View officials began looking at a proposal to change the zoning on a few properties to reportedly clear the way for a CVS to come to town. Bethany Beach officials were also exploring their own little situation — a proposed AT&T tower right outside of town near Arby’s. I had a great Halloween, just sitting on my front porch and talking with trick-or-treaters. But I ended the night with less candy than I started. That’s never a good thing.

November just feels like fall. The leaves have hit the ground, there’s a chill in the air and football is in full gear. The MillVols began work on keeping the town of Millville safe this year, and Frankford residents collectively rejoiced when work began on the town’s water plant. The Sussex County Board of Adjustments approved the aforementioned AT&T cell phone tower, prompting talk of a lawsuit by nearby residents, and NRG bought Bluewater Wind. Derrick Powell was indicted on charges stemming from the September shooting that took the life of Ptlm. Chad Spicer. There was also a lot of turkey eaten by me, starting me down that slippery slope of holiday weight gain.

December is a time of joy. A time of cheer. A time of rising credit card bills. It was also a chilling time in the community as Lewes pediatrician Dr. Earl Bradley was arrested on a slew of charges accusing him of inappropriate contact with very young children. Officials from Bethany Beach decided not to join the lawsuit regarding the AT&T tower, since it’s technically out of town limits, and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper took a trip to the town’s beach to inspect the controversial dunes. And Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church held its always-thoughtful Blue Christmas service. I continued my holiday eating rampage, rendering my new “skinny jeans” useless and ... what was I saying? I just saw a pie.