The greatest weekend of all is upon us

If there is one weekend that stands out above all others for our humble little community by the shore, this would be it.

Who doesn’t love fireworks exploding in patriotic glory over the ocean? Or pie-eating contests? Or beach bonfires? Or hometown parades featuring floats by local businesses, community organizations and families who consider this weekend an annual tradition that’s to be treasured as much for the quality time together as it is for the enjoyment of celebrating the birth of a glorious nation?

Yeah, it’s pretty special.

For those of us fortunate enough to call this wonderful place home, this is our grandest opportunity to put our best foot forward and show off what a tremendous community this truly is. We do this by being courteous to our guests, just as our mothers taught us to do, and by extending an open hand to anyone needing directions or suggestions. We get to celebrate all that is great about our tiny slice of Sussex County and, hopefully, we leave the kind of impression on our guests that makes them want to return again and again.

To our visitors, welcome. Get out and enjoy our beautiful beaches and inland bays. Try some of our amazing and creative restaurants, and wander through our local stores and shops. Hop in the car and wander inland to enjoy a scenic landscape that is flush with berries and crops hitting their stride. This is a time to escape the norm and enjoy all that is around us.

This is also a weekend of celebration, and with that celebration often comes alcohol. Many will be having a cold beer to wash down steamed crabs or hot dogs. Some will be gathering with friends to play cornhole, go camping or just enjoy a good old-fashioned barbecue to celebrate our nation’s independence. That’s all well and good.

But we ask all of you who choose that route to do so responsibly. Don’t drink and drive, as there are more people affected by your actions than just yourself.

Get out and enjoy the area for the holiday, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Just make them positive.

For at least one day, we are all Americans

Date Published: 
July 3, 2015

We are currently a nation that is, at best, divided.

We argue over the distribution of wealth, as the gap between the wealthiest and poorest continues to widen, while the middle class seemingly gets squeezed from both directions. We argue over the rights of same-sex couples to enjoy the same benefits as more “traditional” couples.

We argue over our government’s policies with the Middle East, Asia and Cuba, and we argue over whether or not racism is still alive in this country, as black churches burn across the south and church members in South Carolina are executed over the color of their skin.

We argue over the rights of honest citizens to arm themselves, and we argue over the rights of people who enter our nation illegally to drive cars and collect benefits.

We argue — though I’m sure there are some of you out there who are ready to argue with me that we don’t argue all that much.

And, in a paragraph that doesn’t begin with the word “we,” let me point out that the fact that we argue so much tells me that we are still enjoying our freedoms today as much as we ever have. It’s our obligation to stand up for what we believe in as Americans, and it is only through reasonable conversation and discourse that we can continue to grow and evolve as a nation.

Of course, a good number of the arguments I’ve personally witnessed would not fall under the category of “reasonable,” and make me wonder sometimes if the rift between idealogies is now so vast that civil debate no longer carries any real water, as we have collectively closed our minds to whatever logic the other side might be arguing. We have become a nation collectively dedicated more to digging our heels in the sand than listening to reason, and that is the one trait many of us share that leaves me a bit pessimistic about our nation’s future.

If we can not cooperate, and if we do not listen to new ideas, then where are we? Still scared of the wheel? Etching drawings on cave walls? Pawing at the air and bemoaning the fact that other industrialized nations have surpassed us in industry, education and health care? An old coach of mine used to harp on us that, “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”

That’s because everyone else is working on becoming better.

So, what can we do to knock down some of the walls that have divided us? I’d start with respect. It’s a simple notion, and at some point we were all taught that the only way to earn respect is to give respect. We have to be willing to take a moment and listen to what people of different beliefs have to say. We have to be able to truly understand where they are coming from on each particular issue so we can make informed decisions individually.

We have to stop treating life strictly as a team sport consisting of two political parties in uniforms, and start embracing the fact that we have free will, and can make our own decisions, thank you very much. It’s perfectly fine to identify yourself as a Republican or Democrat, and I readily encourage everybody who does align themselves with a party to get involved and help get out the word that the party is trying to convey.

But I’m also saying it’s perfectly fine to hold the leaders of your party accountable, and to question them if something doesn’t feel right to you personally. Can you be a Republican who is against the death penalty? Sure. Can you be a Democrat and be for the death penalty? Yes. It’s a complicated issue, and we all have the right to feel however we feel.

Maybe more importantly, can you feel one way about the death penalty or the Confederate flag or same-sex marriage or immigration or gun rights and be friends with someone who has completely opposite views? Can you still hang out with that person and listen to his or her opinions without calling that person stupid or naive?

When you are out and about this weekend celebrating the anniversary of July 4, 1776, and all that means, take a look around. You’ll see people of all different genders, sizes, shapes, colors, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations sporting the colors red, white and blue. You will see them applaud fireworks bursting in the night’s sky, and watch them interact with their children or spouses or friends, the same way you will be doing at that very moment. We will all be united as Americans, and the rancor and discord will be on temporary hold.

Just a bunch of Americans celebrating together.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor — July 3, 2015

Chamber thankful for support with event


On behalf of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and staff, I would like to thank everyone who helped make the 58th Annual Old Timer’s Day an absolute success. After a year hiatus, the show successfully returned to Selbyville on Saturday, June 20.

Church Street was lined with over 90 classic cars, trucks, tractors and military vehicles from 1979 and earlier.

The occasion also featured door prizes, food, vendors, live classic country and rock entertainment from the Bo Dickerson Band and children’s activities including crafts, pony rides, a moon bounce and an obstacle course.

We would like to extend a huge “thank you” to all of the sponsors, vendors and volunteers who helped to make this event a reality. As this was the Chamber’s first year running the event, we are especially grateful to see all of the support and backing among our members and the community for this Selbyville tradition.

Thanks to our sponsors for helping to provide everything from moon bounces, an obstacle course, pony rides and golf carts to each and every award given to our participants. Also, kudos to our vendors for the excellent food, artwork, jewelry, clothing and health information available to all involved.

Finally, thank you to all the volunteers for giving us your time to help make Old Timer’s Day run as smoothly as possible. Collaboration is one of the greatest reasons why are business community thrives.

Kristie Maravalli, Executive Director
Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce,/h2>

Coalition created to save, maintain bays


Steve Friend, a potential shellfish farmer, asked that “everyone give shellfish aquaculture a chance.” He may have been personally invited to join the Center for the Inland Bays’ Tiger Teams, but those who have traditionally enjoyed our bays — recreational users, tourists and nearby residents — received no such invitation. They were purposely excluded from these deliberations.

However, residents and business owners who are members of our Coalition for Little Assawoman Bay share a concern for cleaning up the bays and support aquaculture in appropriate, healthful environments.

What we object to is placing plots where they interfere with recreational uses and mandating a forest of markers that both disrupt navigation and destroy the bays’ natural beauty. Who wants to come to a state park for relaxation and find hundreds of acres of actively worked shellfish plots?

Our coalition represents nearly 600 homes and businesses on both sides of Little Assawoman Bay. We are working to craft a solution that will accommodate varied uses while preventing Delaware from destroying its precious bays in order to save them.

Diane Maddex,
Coalition for Little Assawoman Bay
Fenwick Island

Paddle for a Purpose a great hit


We want to thank all of our customers who helped make our fundraiser, Paddle for a Purpose, on Sunday, June 14, a success!

This was the fifth anniversary of our Paddle for a Purpose campaign. Each year, we choose a few local non-profit organizations as the beneficiaries of paddleboard and kayak rental proceeds on a weekend day. This year we selected Delaware Wild Lands, Tri-State Bird Rescue and Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation (QRCF). Each of these charities responds to specific and very different needs in the community. We feel fortunate that we have the ability to help these worthy area non-profits.

We are grateful to those who those who came out and enjoyed time on the water and to our employees who volunteered. Special thanks to the 3 Blonde Bakers, Baja Beach Grill, Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Boathouse and Cottage Café, for providing snacks and door prizes.

And a special thank-you to Delaware Wild Lands, Tri-State Bird Rescue and Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation for all the great work they do!

Mitch Mitchell and Jenifer Adams-Mitchell, Owners, Coastal Kayak
Fenwick Island

Justin’s chairperson shares a parable


The mission of the Justin W. Jennings Foundation is to support and maintain a home in the Bethany Beach area where families with cancer can have a place of respite and enjoy some fun family time. It will be a place of joy and peace at the beach.

Justin was diagnosed with brain cancer just fou weeks before leaving for Penn State. He hoped to become a psychologist, to help families in distress. Justin died on June 25, 2000. This foundation was created to bring to life his dream to help families.

Bruno Ferrero tells that one day a countryman knocked hard on the door of a convent. When the monk opened, he was given a magnificent bunch of grapes.

- “Brother, these are the finest produced by my vineyard. I’ve come to give them a gift.”

- “Thank you! I’ll take them immediately to the Abbot. He’ll be delighted with this offer.”

- “No! I brought them for you.”

- “For me?” The monk blushed, because he did not deserve such a fine gift of nature.

- “Yes!” insisted the man. “Because whenever I knock on the door you opened. When I needed help because the crop was destroyed by drought, you gave me a piece of bread and a glass of wine every day. I want this bunch of grapes will bring you a little of the love of the sun, the rain’s beauty and the miracle of God, who gave birth so beautiful.”

The monk held the grapes themselves, and spent the entire morning to admire him: it was really beautiful. Because of this, decided to deliver the gift to the Abbot, who had always encouraged him with words of wisdom.

The Abbot was very pleased with the grapes, but remembered that the convent had a brother who was ill, and thought:

“I will give him the grapes. Who knows, you can bring some joy to your life.”

And he did. But the grapes did not stay long in one quarter of the sick brother, he reflected:

“The cook has looked after me for so long, feeding me with the very best. I’m sure he will enjoy it.”

When the cook appeared at lunch, bring him his meal, he gave him the grapes.

- “These are for you,” said the sick brother. “As always in contact with the products that nature, you will know what to do with this work of God.”

The cook was amazed with the beauty of the bunch, and had his assistant how the perfection of the grapes. So perfect, he thought, no one to appreciate them better than the sexton, as he was responsible for the Holy Sacrament, in the monastery and many saw him as a holy man would be able to better appreciate this marvel of nature.

The sexton, in turn, gave the grapes as a gift to the youngest novice, so that he might understand that God’s work is in the smallest details of creation. When the novice received, his heart was filled with the glory of the Lord, because I had never seen such beautiful grapes. At the same time he remembered the first time I came to the monastery, and the person who had opened the door, outside this gesture that allowed him to be this community of people who could appreciate the miracles.

So, just before nightfall, he took the grapes to the monk.

- “Eat and enjoy,” he said. “Why do you spend most of your time alone here, and these grapes will make you very happy.”

The monk understood that the gift he had been really intended, savored each one of that bunch of grapes, and slept happy.

Thus, the circle was closed, the circle of happiness and joy, which always extends around generous people.

Thank you.

R Craig Nantais, Chairperson
Justin’s Beach House

New channel markers get a ‘thumbs-up’


I would like to call attention to and thank DNREC management and staff for the fine job they completed on the new channel markings from the Indian River to Beach Cove in North Bethany Beach.

This includes Dan Brower, Chuck Williams and others of the DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship who are responsible for marking the non-federal waterway channels in our inland bays.

The 19 new day markers are far more numerous and complete than previous versions and lay out a distinctive channel that is far safer and easier to navigate.

Thanks again from all boaters for taking the extra effort to expand the navigable channel day markers.

Steve Plotkin
North Bethany

Readers offer opinion on proposed OTC


As a Sussex County property owner and concerned citizen, we respectfully want to register our total opposition to the zoning approval for the Overbrook Towne Center.

We are for managed and well-planned growth that will add luster to the gem that is Delaware’s beaches, and the towns of Lewes, Milton and Rehoboth. We are totally opposed to a massive commercial project that will, in one project, forever change the Route 1 corridor, and impact local served communities, and the gateway to southern Delaware beaches.

This project adds nothing to the quality of life for residents and visitors. It will cause gridlock on secondary roads and towns like Milton, impact public safety, starve existing local businesses from Midway south, cause a negative environment, loss of farmland, impact visitors to the Delaware beaches with massive traffic, overload public water and waste treatment facilities, and on-and-on.

Also we are against one cent of Delaware or federal tax dollars going to an overpass that is only there to serve private enterprise, where Cave Neck Road traffic would be forced into the private shopping center before getting back on public roads. When there is such a drastic shortage of funds to provide for road and bridge infrastructure maintenance and improvements to high-risk intersections, this overpass should not get any public funds that are so badly needed elsewhere.

Nicholas and Joann Rafferty

Bethany resident offers a farewell to Galen


I wish to express my sincerest thanks for the many cards, telephone calls and emails I received on my beautiful Galen. He was my Seeing Eye dog for over 13 years. He carried the weight of my blindness for me. This is a poem that was given to me after he passed, and I’d like to share it with you.

There is a bridge connecting heaven and earth. It is called the rainbow bridge because of its many colors. Just this side of the rainbow bridge there is a land of meadows, hills and valleys with lush green grass.

When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place. There is always food and water and warm spring weather. All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and vigor, those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dream of days and time gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager begins to quiver. Suddenly Galen begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his paws carrying Galen faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion. The happy kisses rain upon your face. Your hands caress Galen’s beloved head, so long gone absent from your heart. Then you cross the rainbow bridge together.

— Author unknown, adjustments made to include Galen’s name

Ann Tansey
Bethany Beach