Letters to the Editor -- March 18, 2011

Thanks from the magician to Minyon
Editor:

We are writing to convey to Don Minyon our profound gratitude and best wishes as he steps down as mayor of Millville. During his tenure, Don was a vigorous and caring champion on behalf of Millville in general and business in particular.

Starting an enterprise from scratch is not a trivial proposition. It is not an overstatement to say that Dickens Parlour Theatre would not exist without our having been the recipient of Don’s advice and support. We thank him most sincerely for his stewardship and for a job well done.

Rich and Susan Bloch
Dickens Parlour Theatre
Millville

Reader calls on DNREC for accountable government
Editor:

As reported in the March 4 issue of the Coastal Point (“Dock removals halted after uproar from home owners”), Tom Fletcher’s dock, at 2 Canal Court, Ocean View, was removed by DNREC on Feb. 23-24. As Mr. Fletcher’s friend for more than 50 years, I witnessed the final day of the dock’s demise. While some readers may think this letter is just a disgruntled friend of a disgruntled home owner sounding off, I believe it also addresses a much larger issue facing all citizens of Delaware and the United States for that matter – the issue being responsible and accountable government.

The dredging of Assawoman Canal and the removal of homeowners’ docks has been a controversial issue for over three years, with no resolution to date. As the March 4 article so clearly points out, there remains much confusion and contradictory information about DNREC’s procedures and authority, including apparent broken agreements, disregarded environmental issues, as well as overall intent and purpose for the canal.

Additional background written by a seemingly wronged home owner, Frank Lesniczak, who repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempted to work with DNREC on keeping his dock was also published in the March 4 issue of the Coastal Point’s letters section (“Resident upset with state over dock”). Mr. Lesniczak’s letter clearly articulates the frustration of home owners who attempt to work within the system but end up suffering its consequences.

Given the confusion and removal of homeowners’ property, several questions would seem appropriate for the State to answered..

Questions 1: When will the Army Corps of Engineers permit to manage and dredge the canal transferred to DNREC in 1990, as well as other relevant documents, be made available to impacted individuals and interested citizens? Numerous requests have been ignored.

Question 2: Has DNREC acted in the best interest of the environment of the canal and or has the department embellished the original intent of the Corps of Engineers deed? Charles Salkin, Parks and Recreation, stated in the Coastal Point article that the Army Corps granted DNREC a dredging permit with certain deed restrictions.

“According to Salkin, the Corps of Engineers cited safety, navigation and environmental concerns” as priorities. As a USCG-licensed captain docks, in my opinion, assist with safety on the canal. They provide a safe haven for people who overextend themselves while kayaking or canoeing, as I have seen numerous times, as well as for boater who experience engine or equipment malfunctions.

Many boaters consider docks to be a safety asset, not a hindrance. Along many sections of the canal, negotiating a 10- to 15-foot steep bank of trees and brush is the only alternative if problems occur.

Secondly, concerning safe navigation, does DNREC have documented statistics that show docks have ever been a problem for navigation on the canal? Homeowner Frank Lesniczak’s March 4 letter to the editor describes how he called the State to warn of a large tree threatening navigation. The State told him that a fallen tree “...would be an act of God and not their responsibility.” The tree still lies in the canal, while DNREC continues to tears down docks! One would think that trees fallen across the canal are a larger safety issue than boater-friendly docks.

Finally, environmental concerns. The Coastal Point article states, “DNREC exceeded the allowed time period for work in the canal, which is supposed to occur only in September to December of each year.” Apparently, environmental issues regarding spawning fish, as well as other concerns, dictates these restrictions. The article goes on to say, “Salkin agreed that this is the typical period for such work, but said the Corps of Engineers granted DNREC a permit extension specifically for the water work.”

Again, is this document available for public inspection? Does “water work” specifically include dismantling docks or was there other intent on the part of the Corps? What was the pressing need to act in February, during fish spawning season, and not follow the original environmental guidelines of the Corps? Is it appropriate to act when many home owners are out of town as happened to Mr. Lesniczak? What were the compelling issues to disregard environment issues and concerns at this time of year?

The confusion goes on. Recent information, as well as a phone call to Mr. Fletcher on Feb. 24 from DNREC, states that the removal of his dock in February was ”the last for the season.” In my opinion, the Corps had already defined the environmental season, which did not extend to February. Does DNREC have its own standards? Surely, part of DNREC’s mission is to be a good steward of the environment of the canal and Delaware.

DNREC’s Web page lists the following as department values. “Integrity – We make and keep our agreements that are specific and measurable. We take responsibility for our actions and the quality of our work. Respect – We communicate calmly, openly, honestly, directly, professionally and respectfully. We listen attentively and without interruption. Customer Focus – We continuously improve internal and external trust. We always keep our customers informed and acknowledge their requests promptly. Openness – We execute our duties in an open and public manner.”

Has the actions of the department reflected these and values?

Question 3: When will DNREC honor the promises made to the home owners living along the canal? Collins Park Home Owners Association V.P. Bill Kroll sent a letter to DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara “...on behalf of the residents of Collins Park, as well as the residents with property adjacent to the Assawoman Canal,” in August 2009. For the record, Mr. Fletcher’s property and two others are very adjacent to Collins Park.

The Division of Parks and Recreation responded to Knoll in November of 2009, instructing Park Superintendent Doug Long ”to delay the removal of the docks in Collins Park until a meeting is held and the Division is given further direction from the Secretary’s Office.” The meeting was not held prior to the removal of Mr. Fletcher’s dock and, in fact, it appeared that Superintendent Doug Long supervised the dock’s removal from a work boat on Feb. 24.

The March article further notes, “Salkin, DNREC was unaware of the other families affiliated with Collins Park” until after Mr. Fletcher’s dock was removed. Did DNREC read Bill Knolls’ August 2009 letter about “home owners with property adjacent to the Assawoman Canal” with due diligence? Salkin even admitted in the article that DNREC is confused about the issue of the homeowners. His quote reads, “We weren’t sure what we were going to do. We had to act. We told the people over a year ago that we would have a meeting.”

Is this an accountable agency when it acts without honoring its agreements and internal guidelines? While promises of a meeting with Collins Park homeowners continue to circulate, to date none has been scheduled.

In conclusion, when will the State and DNREC make information concerning the Assawoman Canal available to the public and provide a forum for a meaningful discussion? Will elected officials take action or wait with the hope that “this too shall pass,” as often seems to be the case when clarity is requested?

Ultimately, the State serves its citizens. This is a good opportunity for the State to take action and demonstrate responsibly. If DNREC wishes to serve the citizens of Delaware, rather than consume valuable resources by dismantling homeowners’ docks, perhaps it should ensure that all existing state parks, bathhouses, etc., are fully funded and offer first-class facilities to residents, as well as to the numerous tourists who are such an important part of Delaware’s economic engine.

Unless all current DNREC facilities are operating at this level, unfocused expenditures consumed by tearing down homeowners’ docks, ignoring past agreements and reducing years of family traditions to rubble is frivolous and a misdirected use of limited resources.

If you agree, please contact state and local representatives and express your thoughts. Consider requesting that DNREC follow their own stated “department values” as outlined in their Mission and Values Statement.

Ultimately the buck stops with the governor if they are not able to operate within these principles. In my opinion, a few dismantled docks today may transition to much larger issues impacting all of Delaware’s citizens tomorrow. In theory, we are the government, but only if we act!

Bob Angle
Frequent visitor to Ocean View

Elling asking questions about churches of Ocean View
Editor:

Do my questions regarding Town of Ocean View property taxes and fees suggest personal oppositions to churches? No. I have been an elder and trustee. I graduated from a YMCA college, George Williams College. I worked for the YMCA. I worked for the Presbyterian Church USA for many years as executive director of Outdoor Ministries.

Is it proper to question tax payer services to churches? Yes. Do I have a loving heart? Yes. Do I publicly identify individuals doing good things? Yes. Will Lloyd as mayor serve the citizens of our Town of Ocean View with decency and order? Yes! Is it a strength or a weakness to ask questions? I believe it is a strength.

I have a good habit of taking my concerns directly to those who are affected by them. Hence, I sent each the three churches of Ocean View a letter regarding Article I, Bill of Rights, in the Delaware Constitution, with the following concerns: The Delaware Constitution reassures freedom of religion. There is a very interesting legal statement within Article One of the Delaware Constitution under Freedom of Religion: “yet no person shall or ought to be compelled to attend any religious worship, to contribute to the erection or support of any place of worship, or to the maintenance of any ministry, against his or her own free will and consent.”

I asked of the churches, “Are all of the property tax payers in Ocean View being compelled to pay a share of the cost of services from the Town of Ocean View for the churches of Ocean View?” I asked, “Is it for churches to voluntarily pay their share of property taxes?” There was not a single response to me from the three churches of Ocean View.

My pursuit for an answer to those questions went to multiple State of Delaware departments and elected officials. Mayor Wood responded that it was too big an issue for the Town of Ocean View, and he feared lawsuits. The Delaware Department of Revenue director sent me an e-mail stating that I, Lloyd E. Elling, as a private property owner, am compelled to pay property taxes. He stated, not-for-profit properties (churches) are exempt from property taxes by Delaware Constitutional law.

However, he stated, the Town of Ocean View can establish fees for services rendered, and not-for-profit properties can be included. He did say that police services regarding life endangerment is provided to all, without regard to fees.

I accepted the Delaware Director of Revenue’s response and moved on to fees being charged for services by the Town of Ocean View. One example was the construction of additions to the three churches of Ocean View. I was told by the town office that none of the churches were charged a fee for their construction proposals.

A few years ago, I had attempted to secure permission to construct additions on our property. We paid a $500 fee. It was denied, with the statement that our architecture style was not acceptable, and we forfeited the $500 fee.

The churches of Ocean View paid no fee for their application for additions on their properties. I asked why. The Church of Christ building addition gained my attention post-construction. It was our fault to have not attended the Town of Ocean View hearing on this proposal. I made an assumption (shame on me) that their construction plans would blend in with their exterior style as was done by the other two churches. I have to live with it and move on.

Today, tax exempt properties in the Town of Ocean View are beginning to pay fees for services. Is it right for our Churches to pay fees for the services rendered by the Town of Ocean View? Yes. The Town of Ocean View pays a large sum of our tax dollars to the Millville Fire Department to assure our public safety.

Are we, the tax payers of Ocean View, paying for these services for the surrounding developments which are not in the Town of Ocean View, as well as for the churches of Ocean View? Life is full of questions, and we all have to ask them. Answers are elusive, and far too often covered up or forgotten. We will always need good questions.

Lloyd E. Elling
Ocean View

Sheeran nets support for OV council bid
Editor:

I’m writing to add my support to the election of Tom Sheeran to the Ocean View Town Council on April 9.

I have known Tom for a number of years and can attest to his sincere interest in doing what is best for Ocean View. He and his wife, Pat, have been active in their community of Hunter’s Run, and Tom as been a volunteer in a number of community organizations, including the Retired and Senior volunteer Program (RSVP), where he presented programs on disaster preparedness to organizations throughout Sussex County.

More importantly, Tom has been closely following the issues in our town and, like many of us, is seriously concerned about Ocean View’s financial future. He feels he can help create solutions that will reduce placing the burden of tax increases on the backs of Ocean View property owners. Conversely, Tom’s opponent has been on the council for the past three years where we have seen continuous uncontrolled spending, as well as annual tax increases.

I urge citizens to vote for Tom Sheeran to fill the Third District council seat next month. I am confident you will not be disappointed.

Vinnie Esposito
Ocean View

Pickrell and Mitchell get reader’s endorsement
Editor:

Our taxes have gone up 24 percent in the last three years, and Mayor Gordon Wood and the council, except for Perry Mitchell, have voted to raise our taxes another 21 percent over the next three years.

Runaway spending for the police department is the reason for the tax increases. It all began with the building of the Taj Mahal police building that cost $2.6 million. This building is the envy of Sussex County and the State Police because none of their buildings have all the bells and whistles that we Ocean View taxpayers paid for.

To justify the Taj Mahal police building, the police chief pushed for a community police force. When this did not happen, Mayor Wood tried to get Millville to agree to a joint police force. Millville wisely declined.

Like everyone else, I want 24/7 police coverage, but at what cost? Until we start properly managing the police department, we will continue to see our taxes go up. Remember our town is only one mile by one mile. We spend well over $60,000 training officers and have lost three in the last four years. We currently have one officer waiting for an opening to occur with the state police.

Training police officers has cost our taxpayers $250,000. Ask yourself why can’t the Ocean View Police Department hire certified police officers when we have vacancies? Every other town is able to hire certified officers. It would seem to me if we pay for a police recruit’s training, they should be required to sign an agreement to stay for a specific number of years.

We are told we have one officer on patrol 24/7 a day. If that is true, why do we need nine patrol cars, each one costing $60,000 to purchase and equip, when the limits of the town is one mile by one mile? This makes no sense. We could easily operate with just five patrol cars and this would save the taxpayers $240,000.

The police department is also over budget for overtime pay by over 300 percent. This is a major reason why the police department is the most expensive department. Maybe Ken McLaughlin could take some lessons in management from Charlie McMullen who, was able to reduce the public works department budget by $43,000.

Ask yourself, do we need nine police cars to patrol a mile-by-mile area? Should we be a training center for police officers to come and go as they please? Is crime so out of control to justify being 300 percent over budget for overtime pay?

I am endorsing George Pickrell for mayor and Perry Mitchell for council.

Joe Fedick
Ocean View

Wood and Sheeran a combo to be proud of
Editor:

I have noticed on Gordon Wood’s campaign sign he says, “Working Together.” This is so important for our town, especially with the budget and the changes that are coming in the administration.

The past elections brought three people to the Council who are “working together” with the mayor. With the election of Tom Sheeran to the Council, it will complete the positive group that will work together for our town. Tom Sheeran is a man who has already given so much as a volunteer to our town, is running a positive campaign and would make the addition to the council that our town needs.

I attend most town meetings, and it is a pleasure to see how the atmosphere has improved during the term of Mayor Gordon Wood.

Please vote for Mayor Gordon Wood and Tom Sheeran on Saturday, April 9, from 8 to 5. We will again have a town council we can be proud of.

Bette Meredith
Ocean View

Thanks from ACTS
Editor:

The Board of Directors of the Atlantic Community Thrift Center (ACTS) would like to thank the community for their continued support in the form of charitable donations and shopping at our store. Also, we would like to thank our volunteers that donate their time to make our store one of the few charitable organizations that work solely on this premise. Together, ACTS strives to reach the less fortunate in Sussex County.

Karen Lesperance, President
Atlantic Community Thrift Center (ACTS)

No happy endings for pets ‘free to a good home’
Editor:

In light of the case involving a West Virginia man accused of holding a woman hostage while he tortured and killed at least 29 dogs he obtained through classified ads (AP story), I urge readers to never advertise animals “free to a good home” or place them without a proper adoption fee.

Many cruel people obtain animals through ads and sell them to laboratories, use them in dogfights or rituals, or worse. Such people often specialize in deception, so simply meeting prospective adopters isn’t enough to ensure that your animal will be in safe hands. A Wisconsin man named Barry Herbeck, who was convicted of torturing and killing animals he obtained through “free to a good home” ads, confessed to taking his kids with him when answering the ads so that people would be comfortable turning animals over to him.

If you must part with your animals, please, do the humane and responsible thing and take them to a reputable, open-admission animal shelter. There, they will be safe, cared for, loved and will have a chance at finding a new home. To learn more, visit www.PETA.org.

Daphna Nachminovitch, Vice President
Cruelty Investigations Department
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

County council not looking for Constitutional battle
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the people of Sussex County and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication. It was received after the deadline for the March 11 issue:

There has been a flurry of speculation recently about the role of the Sussex County sheriff and his relationship with the County Council. As president of Council, I believe it’s necessary for me to offer a response in hopes it will clear the record and lay the groundwork for an open, productive dialogue about the future of our county sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Jeffrey Christopher is scheduled to appear before Council on Tuesday, March 15, [after Coastal Point letters deadline] to give an update on his goals as the newly elected sheriff and his office’s recent activities. Members of Council welcome Mr. Christopher as we look forward to an informative session.

As many of our citizens know, the sheriff in Sussex County is a Constitutional row office. The sheriff is elected by the people and has historically worked as an officer of the courts, overseeing foreclosure proceedings, conducting tax sales and serving legal documents, among other duties. The office is part of the overall county government.

Meantime, the County Council is the elected legislative body of the county and responsible for a number of responsibilities, from providing services, such as land use and paramedics, to sewer service and libraries. Council also levies and collects taxes, and adopts an annual budget.

While the sheriff and Council are elected independently of each other, each must work together to put forth and approve a budget that ensures the efficient operations of the sheriff’s office.

Many in the community are looking forward to the upcoming sheriff’s report. Some, though, are looking for much more – a conflict over Constitutional powers and authority. I, for one, have no interest in seeing that happen.

It is refreshing to have an engaged and energetic citizenry here in Sussex County. I applaud that. What I would ask is that everyone take a step back for the moment and wait for the dialogue to begin before drawing any conclusions. County Council is eager to hear from our new sheriff and his plans for the office the people elected him to serve in.

Please join us to listen in on the sheriff’s report at the next meeting of County Council at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 15, in Georgetown. We hope to see you then.

Michael Vincent, President
Sussex County Council

Pickrell lays out his platform
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to the citizens of Ocean View and was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication:

I am taking the opportunity to use some of that so-called “free ink” to which Mayor Wood made reference. Let me first state – there is no such thing as “free ink.” All Americans have paid a heavy price in the sacrifice of brave men and women to be able to express our opinions and views on issues of public concern via the written media, so it’s anything but “free” ink.

As most of you know by now, I have decided to run to be the next mayor of Ocean View. I want to discuss a number of issues that are of concern to me, and that I am finding in my discussions with Ocean View citizens are also concerns they have.

(1) Budget and financial issues

One of the first things I offered to the Town Council – and you, the taxpayer – was a budget plan to establish and ensure the fiscal responsibility and set us on a course of action that will, over time, eliminate the structural deficit that plagues the finances of Ocean View. At the March 1 budget workshop, the Council adopted many of the budget proposals that I recommended but fell far short of addressing the real problem – out-of-control spending.

A few years ago, a tax plan was put into place by the town manager and the long-range Financial Planning Committee to address the town’s structural deficit. The plan called for 8 percent tax increases over five years, with the increased tax revenues to be used to reduce or eliminate the structural deficit that was leading the Town of Ocean View toward bankruptcy or huge tax increases in the future. Unfortunately, over the past two years, the Council has applied these revenues to increased spending rather than deficit reduction.

We are currently spending a $1.20 for each $1 of revenue taken in. If this is allowed to continue, the financial consequences will become more severe, and guess who will be called upon to bail the town out? You guessed it – you, the taxpayer.

I have proposed a budget plan to the current council that will put the finances on a fiscally sound path without raising your taxes for at least the next three years. If elected mayor, I pledge that I will not vote for any tax increase during my term. My tax plan calls for no new taxes, no reduction in services and minimal impact on the standard of living of our town employees.

Many of our citizens are retired and living on fixed incomes and have not seen a COLA increase from Social Security or other retirement sources in two years. My budgetary spending plan proves that we can live within our means during this very difficult economic climate that plagues our nation, the state of Delaware, Sussex County and our town.

One of the subjects I have found to be of great concern to taxpayers is the cost of health care insurance provided to town employees. Health care costs are rising rapidly, and we can no longer afford to pay a 100 percent of the health care benefit premiums for town employees.

It has been recommended that a committee be assembled to study the health care issue, look at other health care plans for a possible reduction in costs for health care premiums, and make recommendations to the town council for action. I support this sound recommendation.

As we all know, most employees in the private and public sectors pay some portion of their health care premiums. Even retirees on Social Security pay a share of their Medicare insurance and for supplemental insurance as well. I believe it would only be fair to see a 10 percent across-the-board cost share assessed to town employees. This cost would be mostly offset by the 2 percent salary increases recommended in my budget proposal. The main goal of reducing health care costs to the town, while also not placing a significant burden on town employees and their standard of living, can be realized in this way.

(2) Public safety:

Public Safety is another issue that is of great concern to the taxpayers of Ocean View. Providing 24/7 coverage by the police department is a major expenditure of our budget.

I assure you that any action I take as mayor, if elected, will maintain 24/7 coverage and will not compromise the safety of our citizens.

This can be and has been accomplished with the current 7.5 police officers who are currently providing services to our town. The addition of a police officer, as recommended by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) study, will cost the taxpayers more than $400,000 over the next five years.

I have read the study and did not find a compelling need to hire an additional officer at this time. The study recommendation of 8.5 police officers is a best-case scenario, something we cannot afford now. Maybe in the future, if we see a spike in actual crime, we can look at adding additional personnel.

In my discussions with citizens, I have sensed a major shared misconception that, if an OVPD officer is not available to respond to an emergency in Ocean View, there will be no response to an emergency call for service. This is just not true. If an emergency call is dispatched to a neighboring community, for example, in Frankford, the OVPD would likely respond as the closest available unit, along with Delaware State Police.

The same goes for the residents of Ocean View. If an OVPD officer is not available, the closest unit in the area would be dispatched, for example, from the Town of Bethany Beach PD, South Bethany PD, Fenwick Island PD or the Delaware State Police. A law enforcement officer will come to the rescue – it is important that our citizens understand this.

(3) Providing police service to Millville:

I do not support the current initiative of providing police services to the Town of Millville. Such ventures between towns can be ill conceived and full of administrative headaches. I think it is wrong for the taxpayers of Ocean View to subsidize the Town of Millville for police services. We are paying taxes to provide police protection to the residents Ocean View, and we should not compromise this by having our officers serving in an adjacent jurisdiction on a regular basis.

I would like to see Ocean View keep its excellent relationship with the Town of Millville and not compromise it over some unforeseen consequence of differing perception and/or expectations that are likely to occur if we provide shared police services to Millville.

(4) Police vehicle take-home policy and underutilized police vehicles:

Costs related to reinstating the former take-home policy for police vehicles are expenses that we can ill afford at this time. I firmly believe that, if officer lives within the jurisdictional boundaries of Ocean View, allowing a take-home vehicle would be more than appropriate, as it provides a benefit to the taxpayers of Ocean View. Having one of our police vehicles parked in our community would be a deterrent to any criminal coming into the area.

However, having an Ocean View police vehicle parked in Lewes or Rehoboth, or some other part of Sussex County, provides no benefit to Ocean View taxpayers; it benefits only the officer to whom the vehicle is assigned and the jurisdiction where it is parked. More importantly, the price of gasoline is on the rise, which would be an additional burden in cost to the taxpayers if we reinstated the former program.

We also need to reduce the number of police vehicles from our fleet. We have too many vehicles sitting idle and not being fully utilized. We should be able to sell these underutilized vehicles and apply that revenue to offset expenses.

(5) Public safety building issues:

The public safety building was built with the hope that it would provide for future expansion of the police department over the next 40-plus years. I vividly recall statements being made by the council at public hearings indicating that the building was going to be used for “baby-sitting lessons” or a “place of shelter during a hurricane.”

If the Emergency Information Center tells citizens to evacuate, that’s exactly what we should do. However, I believe the police department would find it much more difficult to deal with an emergency situation if their building was packed full of displaced citizens. While a mayor cannot undo past decisions of prior councils, I do not agree that the public safety building is an appropriate place to house citizens during an emergency evacuation.

I believe that the current building is more than adequate to meet the current and future needs of our police force, and that the decision to move the administrative staff to the second floor was an efficient and economical way to utilize this empty space. Today, a resident can come to the Melson Public Safety and Administration Building to receive information, secure licenses, get answers to questions or problem(s) resolved, etc., by either the Department of Police or the town administrative staff.

(6) Public works building

The new public works building is now in the early planning stages, and I support construction of a new building to replace the existing one, which is now located across from John West Park. The new location of the building will be behind the Melson Police and Administration Building, which I believe is an excellent location for the new facility.

At the last public budget hearing, the Council reduced the budgeted cost of the building from $350,000 to $250,000, which was a step in the right direction. As I stated previously, I applaud Mayor Wood for obtaining the new site for the town.

(7) Utilization of town assets:

Another subject of concern to me is how to effectively utilize unused assets, for example, the town hall building is located at 32 West Avenue. If elected mayor, I will establish a committee to make recommendations for utilizing the building as a possible revenue-producing facility for the town. Council meetings can be moved from this location to the larger lecture meeting room located at the police and administration building on Central Avenue, to allow use of the former town hall for other purposes.

I don’t believe that the property where the current public works facility is located should be sold at this time, especially in this difficult real estate market. I strongly believe that we should retain the property, at least for the time being. It is a valuable asset to our town and, as you know, land is difficult to acquire.

One thought would be to use the property as a parking lot or for future expansion of the park, until a reasoned decision is made for use or disposition of the property. Unfortunately, the town council thought otherwise and precipitously decided to sell the property.

There are many other issues that I would like to address, but I don’t want to use up too much of that “free ink.” I have been out on the campaign trail, knocking on doors, and have enjoyed my conversations with those of you I have had the pleasure of meeting. I hope to meet with each and every one of you personally prior to the election on April 9 to answer your questions and to explain my position on the issues.

I know this will be a challenge, so if I don’t get to see you at your home, please come to the candidate night on March 31 at the town hall on West Avenue and submit your questions. I will answer them to the best of my ability, and you can count on any commitments I make to you. Also, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns you would like to discuss.

Remember that the town charter established the office of mayor as primarily a ceremonial position, but the mayor’s real influence comes from being a part of the town council. The five members of the council are policy makers, and the mayor is just one part of that group.

As your mayor, my primary objective will be to represent you, the taxpayer. I will serve with the pride, dignity and honor just as I served the public as a police officer for 26 years.

Please make the effort to vote on April 9. Whether you vote for me or another candidate, your vote can and will make a difference and will guide the direction of the town for the future.

George M. Pickrell
Candidate for Mayor of Ocean View

Casino night a success for Most Blessed Sacrament
Editor:

A huge thank you is, once again, extended to our wonderful community. Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic School held our 3rd Annual Casino Night fundraiser on March 5, and it was a huge success!

We are grateful for the tremendous generosity of the local community, including 16 local restaurants who donated wonderful signature dishes and many, many local businesses who donated spectacular items for our auction. The proceeds far surpassed our expectations and raised much-needed funds for our school. A night of fun and community fellowship was had by all. Kudos again to the spectacular community in which we live!

Many blessings.

Lisa Delisi, Casino Night Committee Chair
Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic School

A $606 fine for sweeping before 8 a.m.?
Editor:

I first spoke with Bethany Beach Town Manager Cliff Graviet in 2004 about Bethany’s code enforcement officer. He came to one of my jobs and threatened to arrest two former employees claiming they were independent sub contractors who would be required to have a town business license.

Both employees were so intimidated by English that they went to town hall and wrote personal checks for $150 to defuse the situation. Afterwards, both employees came to my office, highly concerned and confused. Individual employees are not required to obtain a town mercantile license.

A call to Mr. Graviet’s office made this situation dissolve, and my employees’ personal checks were returned.

The next time I had the pleasure of calling Mr. Graviet was the summer of 2007, when the code enforcement officer pulled out his Bethany Beach code enforcement badge on Three R’s Road, a four-wheel-drive beach in the Delaware State Park, threatening to arrest my neighbor because English didn’t like the way he parked his four-wheel-drive vehicle on the beach.

I didn’t know the Bethany Beach code enforcement officials had jurisdiction to create and enforce parking rules on the State Park beaches.

If that incident isn’t an example of someone who shouldn’t have a badge, I don’t know what is.

This brings me to my current complaint. On Wednesday, March 2, 2011, he came to my new home project at 106 Ocean View Parkway and found a Bruce Mears Designer/Builder employee at 7:56 a.m., sweeping a third-floor deck, preparing to install a rubber membrane roof at 8, when “construction work” is permitted to start in Bethany.

As always, he was short and arrogant as he spoke with my employee who apologized to him, stating he didn’t think sweeping was a violation because it is a quiet activity, and promised it wouldn’t happen again.

He responded that he knew it wouldn’t happen again because he was sending Mears a fine.

On Thursday, March 3, we had the pleasure of being interrupted during an all-day design meeting with a client to sign a registered letter containing a $606 fine.

He states that the violation of “doing construction activities” was at 7:30 a.m. Sweeping isn’t construction, and 7:56 is not 7:30 a.m., as he states on the citation. I have numerous witnesses that he was on the job just before 8, not 7:30 as he wrote on the citation.

During my company’s 25 years, we have never received a written warning or fine in Bethany Beach, or any other municipality, for violating any rules, codes or ordinances. Is a $606 fine appropriate? Wouldn’t a stern warning have sufficed, since we have never been warned, verbally or in writing?

Since March 1, 2006, Bruce Mears, Designer/Builder Inc. has generated $81,739 in Bethany Beach permit and mercantile license fees. My company has provided many employment opportunities for local tradesmen. My cottage designs enhance Bethany’s Delaware coastline heritage. No other company enjoys a better reputation than ours for community respect and involvement. Our professional reputation is peerless.

It’s no big secret that the construction industry is in the worst recession since the Great Depression. This building code enforcement official’s absurd $606 citation for sweeping a deck before 8 a.m. is a classic example of out-of-control socialist-style government regulation stifling small business’ ability to function. Our community and local businesses don’t need this kind of overreaction and extreme regulation.

Bruce Mears, Designer/Builder does not expect any special treatment under the law, but moderation and common sense should be the order of the day, not a heavy hand.

Bruce Mears, Owner
Bruce Mears Designer/Builder Inc.

Community counts for EMS fundraiser
Editor:

Banks Wines and Spirits is proud of our community and likes to assist organizations in meeting their needs. We feel that there is an immediate need for a bariatric stretcher for the Millville Volunteer Fire Company EMS response unit.

Bariatric stretchers provide a safe and dignified transport for large patients. The stretcher is capable of lifting 700 pounds and reducing situations where operators may injure their back. At this time, the Millville EMS relies on other departments to assist them with obese patients, which could delay response time and put the patient’s life at risk.

We would sincerely like to thank Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club for being such a great host for our EMS fundraiser; also, Evolution Craft Brewing Co. and Treasury Wine Estates for sponsoring the beverages.

We would also like to thank the following businesses for donating to such a worthy cause: Bacchus Importers, Baywood Greens, Café on 26, DiFebo’s Bistro at Bear Trap, Fat Tuna, Flylow Trucking, Giant Foods, Good Earth Market, Harris Teeter, I’d Rather Be Tanning, Interiors by Kim, La Mirage, Mind, Body and Sole, Ocean RV, Oceanova Spa, Patti’s Hallmark, Millville Pet Stop, Prestige Beverage Group, Route 26 Salon and Spa, Salon on Central Avenue, Treasure Island Fashions and United Distributors.

We would especially like to thank those who took their time to come support our community and joined us at Cripple Creek.

I am excited to announce we raised $3,569.91 toward the purchase of a bariatric stretcher. The stretcher will cost approximately $15,000. If you would like to contribute to this cause, please send a check to the Millville Volunteer Fire Department indicating Bariatric Stretcher on the memo line and mail it to MVFC, P.O. Box 64 Millville, DE 19967.

Kami Banks
Banks Wines and Spirits