To many, the Atlantic Community Thrift Shop (ACTS) is a great little secret store in Clarksville where great deals can be found. To those who know a little bit more about the shop, ACTS is a tremendous symbol of what can be accomplished when several area churches — of different denominations — work together for the common good of the community they serve.
Well, you might be able to add a little more description for ACTS these days. They are potential life-savers.
When ACTS President Karen Lesperance saw a sign at the Millville Volunteer Fire Co. last year stating that the company was trying to raise money for three LUCAS Chest Compression Systems — one for each of the company’s three ambulances — Lesperance wanted to help. Members of ACTS approached the fire company and asked how much they needed to raise to buy the three devices and were told it would cost $45,000.
ACTS decided to donate $30,000 to the company to help them out on this effort.
“It’s not very often I’m speechless,” said Michele Steffens, an EMT who also serves as the MVFC’s financial secretary, “but I was speechless.”
The donating spirit of ACTS was not confined to the MVFC, either. They decided to also donate $15,000 to the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Company, who were also blown away by the generosity shown by ACTS.
“Anytime a business or organization partners up with us, it’s huge,” explained Matt Gajdos, fire recorder for the Dagsboro fire company and second vice-president of the state EMS association.
On behalf of our entire community, we want to thank ACTS for their incredibly generous donations to local emergency response teams. Any one of us can be saved because of their massive donations.
Though this will probably come as a great surprise to my loyal readers (Hi, Mom!), I made a bit of a wisecrack the other day about the recent spell of cold weather we’ve been experiencing.
In response, someone asked me if I wouldn’t miss the changing seasons if I packed up my toys and moved to a shack on the equator, escaping the chilly winters forever while learning the traditions and culture of the gentle equator people (I know. Don’t email me. It was a joke, folks.)
Regardless, her question reminded me of a simpler time in my life — before marriage, fatherhood and Netflix — when I first moved to California. It was about a week before the Washington Redskins played the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl, and the temperature was about 65 degrees, from what I remember. At that time, I thought I had found the happiest place on earth.
There were beautiful people everywhere I turned. Everybody’s cars were sparkling clean, unencumbered by the ravages of road salt or that slushy disgusting stuff that makes it into our wheel wells every winter. And the climate was amazing. The only thing... Sorry. I got distracted. It’s just so weird to think about a Super Bowl featuring the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills. I mean, Toilet Bowl, sure, but Super Bowl? The Redskins and Bills? It’s like two slow-witted pigs waging battle on Final Jeopardy for all...
But I digress.
I loved that first winter in California, and weather was a major part of that affection. The summer came around, and that was another great part of living there. It got a bit warmer. I attended a ton of baseball games. And I made a good friend who was also from the East Coast, so we went on various explorations to enjoy all the Golden State had to offer. It was truly a great time.
However, after spending about two years there, it hit me that I missed the changing of the seasons. The leaves didn’t turn color. We never really hit my beloved “sweater weather.” And there was never a two- or three-week period where you could see the flowers all spring to life at once. Indeed, I missed the seasons.
But I feel that it’s important to note that I never mentioned that I missed standing thigh-deep in a snow drift while I moved and scraped snow and ice off my car to go to work in the morning. Nor did I mention that I missed trying to have a conversation with someone outside while we both did disgusting things to the sleeves of our coats to prevent disgusting things from rolling down our respective faces during said conversation. And I know for a fact that I never missed putting on boots, a hat, gloves and seven layers of clothing to take out the trash, then having to take them all off again as soon as I walked back in the door for fear of creating a Slip ’N Slide in the hallway when later walking in my socks.
So, yeah, I did miss the changing of the seasons, but I would have been happy with a changing of just three seasons.
Ultimately, I obviously moved back east from California after several years, but it had nothing to do with an affinity for winter. I spent one winter living in Connecticut, and I think it’s important to note that I wrote that “I spent one winter living in Connecticut.” That was a whole new level of cold for this thin-blooded soul, and I was back in milder Delmarva by the end of that spring.
Can winter be beautiful? Absolutely. Waking up in the morning after an overnight snow can steal your breath when you look out that window and see a white blanket covering everything in sight. Icicles can be aesthetic masterpieces of art, and when I look out my office window and see a heron standing on an iced-over creek, I can’t help but smile.
There are also the feel-good moments that come up in every winter storm. You know, those stories you hear about a couple young guys running around in their trucks helping people who get stuck, or those kids who shovel the driveways of their elderly neighbors because it’s the nice thing to do, or people making hot chocolate for construction workers outside their work places or homes.
As much as I enjoy those stories, they are heart-warming because the cold has put people in position where they need assistance or a helping hand. No cold, no cool stories.
I’ll take that trade any day of the week — and twice on deadline days.
Letters to the Editor
Reader: Start over with shellfish plans
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to Gov. Jack Markell and was sent to the Coastal Point for publication.
Just about now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is deciding whether to grease the skids for your administration’s decision to impose industrial shellfishing operations in recreational waters in Sussex County, in places surrounded by hundreds of residential homes.
These are places where grandchildren learn to water ski and to fish, where families from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, from Maryland and Washington, D.C., and, of course, from all over Delaware travel annually to enjoy the fun and sun of coastal Delaware. Places where hundreds of businesses, including popcorn and ice cream stands, kayak rentals, music venues, restaurants, bars, shops and hotels earn their living. Places from which Delaware rightly earns a reputation as a beautiful, clean, family coastal resort.
You didn’t make the decision to install industrial shellfishing in these idyllic resort neighborhoods of Sussex County. The decision was made in a deeply flawed process that made no announcement to the people who would be most significantly affected and invited no public comment from them.
Some 150 letters opposing the plan have now reached the Army Corps of Engineers, written by citizens who were blindsided when your administration mapped their adjacent recreational waters as industrial sites. In a small state like Delaware, that’s quite an uprising.
Your [Department] of Natural Resources & Environmental Control staff has toured the waters where industrial shellfishing doesn’t make sense, and they now understand why. Elected officials who favor aquaculture, like me, are calling on Delaware to modify its plan.
If the Corps of Engineers approves your administration’s request to quickstep approvals for commercial shellfishing where young waterskiers and boaters now enjoy Delaware’s waters, your goal of nurturing a new shellfishing industry in Delaware will be dogged for years with challenges. Aquaculturists — not environmentalists, but commercial fishing interests, mostly from other states — will face persistent uncertainty over whether their commercial farms might be uprooted at any moment by those challenges.
There is a route to encouraging environmentally and economically sound aquaculture in Delaware. But that route does not include installing industrial operations in residential, recreational areas.
Right now — before the Army Corps of Engineers issues its decision on Delaware’s flawed application — is the time to pull the plug, retract the proposal and fix it. Don’t give the federal agency a reason to throw it back in Delaware’s face. Recall the plan, and give DNREC a chance to fix it by redrawing its maps after proper public engagement.
Reader: Help local shops survive
With the road closures on Route 26, many small “mom-and-pop” shops and restaurants are in difficult times.
Sales are down significantly on Route 26 stores. Some may not make it to the tourist season.
You may have some favorite shops along this 4.5-mile road project — if you want to keep them around, the next three months are critical that you ignore the traffic inconvenience and patronize and support them.
Together, Millville and Ocean View should consider financial assistance with “no” interest small hardship loans, to “bridge” the gap for these tax-paying businesses.
To quote Scott Kammerer about Delaware recently, “These people didn’t turn their back on me, and I’ll never turn my back on them.”
Severna Park, Md., and Ocean View
Reader thinks Markell against senior women
It is inconceivable that Gov. Markell’s current budget plan, that he so proudly presented the other week, hinges on the subsidies provided to senior citizens. Those greedy seniors, who developed the state, established its colleges, industries and tourism, who voted for him, and who are now, as stated by Gov. Markell, to be sucking the lifeblood from the State by having their property taxes subsidized.
This must be some kind of ploy by the governor to get state senators/representatives to negotiate the senior tax subsidy against instituting another unpopular tax, like a state sales tax or higher taxes on gasoline.
The governor states the subsidy is expensive for Delaware and the expense will continue to escalate. However, based on statistics presented by the Delaware Division of Services for Aging & Adults and the U.S. Census Bureau, the following provides a comparison of Delaware’s population, growth, number of adults 60-plus with a state that has a very high senior population — namely Florida — that allows all citizens to deduct $50,000 under the Homestead Act:
• 2013 Delaware population was 917,092, a 2.1 percent increase — 45th populated of 50 states;
• 2013 Florida population was 19,317,568, a 2.7 percent increase — 4th populated of 50 states;
• 2010 Delaware population characteristics: age 60-85-plus — 182,390; number female — 100,942; females separated/widowed/divorced, 44,356.
Based on the government’s own statistics, more than half the population is female and half of that group are females who are supporting themselves and/or family members.
Additionally, statistics show people between the ages of 18-24 and 40-59 are the largest population in Delaware and exceed the elderly population.
One can only draw one conclusion, that the governor is not only anti-senior but unfairly targets senior females.
Shellfish aquaculture gets more attention
Editor’s note: The following letter was addressed to members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was sent to the Coastal Point for publication.
The purpose of this letter is to request that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deny the request made by Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife to allow shellfish aquaculture in Little Assawoman Bay under NWP 48. At a minimum, I would request that additional public hearings be scheduled to ensure that the action has been carefully planned, giving due consideration to input from all stakeholders.
I understand that your decision to modify NWP 48 with the proposed regional conditions will be based on an evaluation of the probable cumulative impacts on the public interest and to assure that the activities remain minimal. It does not appear that Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife has given due consideration or obtained adequate public input as to all of the certain adverse consequences of the aquaculture activity to conservation, economics, aesthetics, environmental, recreation, safety and welfare of the people.
The Salt Meadows community has a pier and preserved marsh on the Little Assawoman Bay (LAB) adjoining one of the proposed SADA sites, although my comments apply to all of the homeowners and businesses that utilize LAB.
We utilize the BAB for kayaking, canoeing, boating and all forms of water recreational activities, as is common for a thriving vacation community. These activities bring a host of economic benefits to the State of Delaware, in addition to the personal welfare of the citizens who utilize the LAB.
It is obvious that the proposed SAFA sites will severely curtail the public use of the LAB. Further study and consideration of this impact should be considered, particularly when Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife itself admits that the aquaculture program will actually cost the State of Delaware money rather than providing any economic benefit.
It should be noted that this cost is only the cost of the program and not inclusive of any lost economic values from tourism and decreased taxes on declining property values of the bayfront communities, a factor that does not appear to have been considered in the current plan.
Safety of the users of the LAB is also a factor. Facts state that LAB has a 1.5[-meter] depth at low tide. If a paddleboarder, kayaker, canoeist, boater or sailboarder were to inadvertently cross into an aquaculture area, the chances for harm are much greater — even if the wire cages are made of coated plastic. How long will coated plastic hold up in salt waters, and will the cages be inspected by fishermen and/or state officials to ensure that they would be compliant?
This cost could arguably be defended if substantial environmental gains were to be realized. I understand that a much larger contributor to the pollution of the LAB (and all the bays included in this proposal) would not be addressed or rectified by the potential benefit from commercial aquaculture.
If Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife is truly concerned about the environmental condition of the LAB, then a comprehensive plan addressing all forms of pollution should be developed, prioritizing the largest pollution issues, with a long-term plan of action.
My community has granted a conservation easement for the bayfront marshland of our community. I am an avid birdwatcher and consider myself devoted to conservation. One of the features that attracted me to my community was the marsh and pristine views of the Little Assawoman Bay. We have nesting osprey and many shorebirds that frequent the pools in our marsh and rest on our pier.
I am unclear as to whether the additional activity from commercial aquaculture will not have a negative effect on the wildlife and water quality arising from the disturbance of the bottom through the additional powerboat activities of commercial fisherman in such low tide areas. Certainly the noise and increased activity will not be beneficial for the many forms of wildlife that currently coexist with us in our current use.
My sincere hope is that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will take the prudent action to table this proposal for further comprehensive study and afford additional time for public comment to insure that Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife has adequately considered all environmental, aesthetic and economic factors.
Kathy L. Kahler Lambrow