A walk back through the year


Many of us in the community will remember 2008 as the year that Ocean View blew up in front of our faces. Actually, that’s pretty much the story that captured the most inches of news throughout the year, and kept our letters section more swollen than Roseanne after Thanksgiving dinner. However, as I made my annual trek through the archives, there were quite a few other issues that demanded some attention throughout the year.

Without any further adieu, let’s metaphorically join hands and look back at a pretty busy year behind us.

January started off with a splash, as dedicated people jumped into the frigid waters off Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island as part of the traditional events marking the beginning of a new year. We also saw Millville try to combat a strained budget with the implementation of an increased property tax rate. Finley Jones took over as president of Sussex County Council and Bethany Beach Town Council members started heating up talks regarding a smoking ban on the beach and boardwalk.

While on the topic of Bethany, residents and visitors fumed about the dune height of the “new” beach, and workers continued on the project with the planting of dune grass. Sheree Stephens, the longtime director of the CHEER center in Ocean View, was dismissed and faced legal action after reports of theft.

On a personal level, I resolved to slow down my drinking and eat better.

February brings out a famous groundhog every year, as well as the spirit of romance with Valentine’s Day. To commemorate the latter, the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra put on a special Valentine’s Day program featuring Maestro Julien Benichov. Ocean View Town Council began a conversation about the town’s finances in light of declining property taxes, and the Millville Town Council gave the greenlight for the Millville-By-the-Sea project to construct a sales office and six model homes.

The Bethany Beach Town Council, meanwhile, voted 5-1 to draft legislation on the smoking ban, and the Indian River School District reached a settlement on the religious suit filed against them.

I drank too much, ate too much and waved goodbye to another round of failed New Year’s resolutions.

March has a special place in my heart every year, as St. Patrick is annually celebrated with a rash of green and a river of alcohol that envelops much of the free world. Locally, officials reported that the new Indian River Inlet Bridge would be up and running by 2012, and the candidates for Ocean View Town Council had their say in the town’s candidates night. Delmarva Power came out and said they were in favor of a land-based wind farm, as opposed to other plans involving water-based wind alternatives.

I discovered that I did not, in fact, have the power to fly. Why do I attempt this from my roof every St. Patrick’s Day?

April showers bring, well, Perry Mitchell and Gordon Wood to leadership positions on the Ocean View Town Council. At least it did in 2008, as Mitchell won the town’s election to represent District 3 and Wood became Ocean View’s second mayor. The National Transportation Safety Board released their findings on the December 2006 helicopter crash that took the life of noted developer Josh Freeman and the pilot — and determined pilot errors to be the cause.

Ocean View officials began discussing a proposed retail, office space and gas station complex in town, Bethany Beach adopted the town’s first outdoor smoking ban and the “Big Four” of Bethany Beach, Fenwick Island, South Bethany and Sea Colony discussed their plans to run ambulance service.

I was the victim of an April Fool’s joke. Still trying to grow back my eyebrows.

May saw the new Ocean View Town Council kick things off with a pledge to end some of the bad blood and move ahead in the town’s best interest.

Let’s just put a big “digress” right there.

ResortQuest purchased Seacoast Realty, Robert Powell was named interim principal at Sussex Central High School after Dana Goodman was let go following accusations of an inappropriate relationship with a student. A crewman on a research vessel lost his life when a nor’easter ripped through the area, Bethany Beach approved their Streetscape plans and gas hit $4 a gallon at local service stations.

On the personal side, I was paying $4 a gallon for gas.

June saw many more people coming to the area as the season really started to kick off, and a new veterans’ clinic opened its doors in Georgetown. A tree fell down during a bad storm and crashed through Ocean View Town Hall, and a Sussex County paramedic lost her life when the ambulance she was in hit a tree. The patient in the back of the ambulance also died during the accident. On the bright side for the month, Indian River High School grad Jordan Hale played the clarinet at Carnegie Hall — a crowning achievement for both him and the community as a whole.

I tried on my new bathing suit, remarked that I looked like a pasty lava lamp and resolved to not go outside until at least November.

July is known for its fireworks, and Ocean View saw some of its own when the town council voted against the proposed service station. Council members also got into a discussion about conflicts of interest with Richard Nippes being on the historical group, Bill Wichmann serving with the Citizens’ Auxiliary Patrol (CAP) and Wood being a member of the Millville Volunteer Fire Co. The town’s take-home policy on police cars was also altered, creating more fireworks in the town. Sussex Central High School named David Doherty to be the full-time principal of the school.

I worked up a sweat one day. Well, I walked briskly to the mailbox. Don’t get too excited.

August saw more trouble in Ocean View, as a group of residents staged a rally to attempt to garner enough signatures on a petition to make the state audit the town’s finances. The Coastal Point brought back our television listings, Roxana was again the center of the softball universe with the Little League World Series and the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol took down a national championship at the United States Lifeguarding Association’s Nationals competition in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Local police broke up a theft ring that resulted in three arrests and hundreds of charges filed, and the Indian River School District banned students from using cell phones in schools.

I turned 39. Go ahead. Make your little jokes.

September saw the school buses once again going up and down Route 26, and Margaret Young, Lew Killmer, Tony McClenny and Jack Gordon won elections to sit on the Bethany Beach Town Council. McClenny was named mayor in the town’s re-organizational meeting.

The Ocean View Town Council voted to make changes to Police Chief Ken McLaughlin’s contract, sparking outrage amongst some citizens, and Sussex County Democrat Kay Ryan threw her hat into the ring to battle Rep. Gerald Hocker for his seat as state representative for the 38th District.

I ate a pepper that almost made my tongue fall off in a crumbled mass of volcanic ash.

October is the time for ghosts and ghouls, and Selbyville was dealing with its own problem of juvenile crime in the town. The state’s Public Integrity Commission ruled that there were no major conflicts of interest amongst Ocean View Town Council members, and McLaughlin was awarded runner-up status for state police chief of the year by the Delaware League of Governments.

Things escalated in Ocean View in September, as residents spoke out against the town’s proposed public works building, and Councilman Roy Thomas reported that he had his tires slashed.

I dressed as a bald guy who likes playing poker for Halloween.

November brings a little chill every year, but things were warm for Hocker and John Atkins as they won their elections for state representative offices. The state’s attorney general came out in favor of McLaughlin in the contract dispute with the town, and council members reached a compromise regarding the status of his contract. However, members of CAP were not as happy with changes made to their by-laws and resigned as a unit. Ron Steen maintained his grip on the beach chair and umbrella services in Bethany Beach when they awarded him their vendors contract again.

I ate a lot of turkey. Wrote down, “Eat better and stop drinking” for resolutions for 2009.

Ah, December. Tough month all around for me, and things were pretty bad for the greener side of our community when it was announced there would not be a recycling drop-off location in Millville. BlueWater Wind stated they will begin their off-shore wind farm project off Rehoboth Beach in the spring, and DiFebo’s took over operations of the restaurant at Bear Trap Dunes. Longtime Sussex County Councilmen Dale Dukes, Finley Jones and Lynn Rogers all came to the end of their time on council.

I got a Fathead of Ray Lewis for Christmas. Yeah, I am that guy.