Millville de-annexes school property

Two dozen Millville voters on Saturday cast their ballots in favor of de-annexing the final remaining portion of the Lord Baltimore Elementary School property that is not in the town of Ocean View.

The move clears the way for that neighboring town to annex the parcel and complete the school property’s move from the jurisdiction of both towns, as well as Sussex County, to solely that of Ocean View. Previously containing a parking lot at the school, the parcel now houses an office and the school’s new cafeteria, after the renovations done there in 2005 and 2006.

During discussion of the parcel by the Ocean View Town Council in 2006, members of the Ocean View Police Department expressed concerns about the department’s lack of full jurisdiction on the school property until its entirety was annexed into the town. While Delaware State Police could respond to problems there, Millville itself has no police force.

A second parcel was annexed from the county to the Town of Ocean View in 2005, by an Ocean View ordinance. But a de-annexation process was not previously established in the state of Delaware and required work by state officials and those from both towns to determine how the remaining parcel could move from Millville’s corporate limits to those of Ocean View.

That resulted in the referendum on de-annexation by Millville. There was no word early this week on when Ocean View will proceed with annexation of the parcel, but it is anticipated in the near future.

The issue of de-annexation of the small school parcel was, perhaps understandably, of low priority with Millville voters. With, as it turned out, no town council election being held on the March 3 general election day, voter turnout Saturday for the special election along was extremely light.

Just 19 voters turned out in person to cast their ballots — all voting in favor of the de-annexation. Five absentee ballots were cast in favor of the move, while one was cast against it.

Emergency booklet to be mailed to citizens

Newly appointed Board of Elections members had a slow day, manning the polls from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with little to do but welcome the occasional voter. They did have one other assigned task that day, however — the handing out to those voters who did make their voices heard of the town’s new emergency preparedness booklet.

Those town residents who didn’t come out for the voting on Saturday will have their booklets mailed to them — not saving the town quite as much on postage as had been hoped, simply due to the low turnout.

Town Manager Linda Collins has touted the booklet as an important document to help Millville citizens prepare for the event of a severe coastal storm or other emergency. Collins also included information on preparing a family emergency plan in the town’s most recent newsletter.

Banks to join council

Town council elections, for three seats on the five-member council, were to have been held on March 3 also, but were canceled due to a lack of candidates. Interim Mayor Tim Droney did not run for re-election, clearing the way for resident Kami Banks to take his seat. Councilmen Richard Thomas and Don Minyon retained their seats with no challengers.

Banks, a lifelong Sussex Countian and 2000 graduate of Indian River High School, has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ohio State University. She was also the coach of the IRHS field hockey team in 2004 and 2005.

Banks works at her parents’ business, Banks Liquor, which is located inside the town, and regularly attends town meetings. She was also a member of the Millville Centennial Committee that organized the 2006 parade and celebration for the town’s 100th birthday.

With her election to the council, Banks said she plans on working to secure a police department for the town, as well as to expedite the process of bringing central sewer to Millville. Banks said she is also concerned with town infrastructure keeping up with growth and plans to work with governmental agencies to help secure funding for upgrades in the road system.

Minyon, who was appointed to fill the seat of outgoing Mayor Gary Willey in 2006, will start his first full term on the council this month. He is a longtime Millville resident and works at the James Farm Preserve, with local students and scouting groups, and with his church.

Minyon wrote in the town newsletter that he wants to help prepare the town for the growth it is facing while helping to preserve the elements that have “made the town great.” He said a five-year comprehensive plan, growth issues, equal treatment for town citizens regardless of how much property they own, controlled development and responsible spending are his goals.

Thomas, who will begin his second two-year term this month, has already seen what growth can do, having lived in Columbia in Howard County, Md., during the building of major highways, master-planned communities and sprawling growth. He has lived in Millville for 20 years.

Thomas has said that the town has changed in that time, becoming less of a place where everyone knew their neighbors and relied on each others’ help. But he said he is determined to preserve the town’s charm. He has been heavily involved with the Millville Volunteer Fire Company – a legacy after his ongoing involvement in the Columbia, Md., fire company.

For his goals, Thomas listed ongoing revisions to the town’s subdivision and ordinance codes, a public safety plan that includes both increased fire and police protection and strengthening the town’s administrative staff.

The next Millville Town Council meeting, which will see all three candidates join Deputy Mayor Joan Bennett and Councilman Gerry Hocker, is set for Tuesday, March 13, at 7:30 p.m. The new council will hold its reorganizational meeting at that time, selecting from among their number members to serve as mayor and deputy mayor, among other council positions.

The seats held by Hocker and Bennett will be up for re-election in 2008.