Lottery winner not local, but still a good story

Date Published: 
Jan. 20, 2017

There’s always a sense of curiosity when someone hits a big lottery drawing — particularly when that winning ticket was purchased close to home.

Is it someone I know? Is it someone local? Is it someone who doesn’t need/deserve the money?

When we first heard that a $121.6 million winning ticket was bought at Selbyville Goose Creek, our hopes were that it would be someone local who won, and that a good bit of cash would start circulating through our local economy. This weekend we learned that it was a Pennsylvania couple that won it, but it’s hard not to be happy for them after receiving their quotes from Delaware Lottery officials.

“I figured it only takes one ticket to win,” said the man, who along with his wife decided to stay anonymous. “I went to the machine and scanned my ticket, and all these numbers came up. I have never seen that many zeroes in my life! Once reality set in, my first reaction was to cry. I walked out the store in tears and returned to my wife, who was waiting in the car for me.”

“He came to the car and had tears on his face,” said his wife. “I didn’t know what to think at first, but then he said anxiously, ‘We are millionaires!’ I was so confused I didn’t believe him and thought he was joking, so I made him double-check the numbers on his phone, and we got the same results.”

We’re happy for this couple, and wish them all the best — and hope they come back and visit us all at the beach.

Is there anything at all that we can agree on?

Date Published: 
Jan. 13, 2017

Judging by the responses by people on my social media feeds Tuesday night, President Barack Obama’s “farewell” speech that evening was either, (a) a reminder that Obama and his family have been wonderful representatives of all that is good in the world, and champions of hope for the future, or, (b) Obama is a foreign-born agent of terrorists who has been diseasing our nation from the inside since the day the doctor smacked his backside.

Seriously. This is the kind of stuff I see.

I wish I could just say that Obama is the only polarizing figure in the world right now, but that’s clearly not the case. I have some very smart friends who are encouraged and optimistic that Donald Trump is going to make this country “great” again — that he will use his business savvy and negotiation skills to make our nation secure and financially strong. Of course, I have other very smart friends who see Trump as a dictator-in-waiting who doesn’t understand that you can’t run the country as an oligarchy.

To put the divide into some context, Trump just won a national election by receiving more electoral votes than his competitor, but a poll released by Quinnipiac University on Tuesday suggests that Trump only has a favorability rating of 37 percent.

See what I mean about a divide?

It’s not just politics. Mention Tom Brady on an Internet message board and watch the comments. “Brady is the greatest quarterback the world has ever seen, and possibly only one confirmed miracle away from being a saint.” “Brady is a cheater, and any quarterback would win by throwing 3-yard passes in a Bill Belichick offense.”

LeBron James is either a superior basketball player to Michael Jordan or “hot trash.” Meryl Streep is either an overrated actor who should keep her mouth shut, or a once-in-a-lifetime talent who is using her platform for good.

There is climate change, or we have been the victims of a complicated ruse by the Chinese. The Russians are hacking, or they’re not. We need more guns or less guns. More prayer or less prayer. More patriotism, or less.

I read the other day (and I’m not citing the source because of a very complex issue — I forgot where I read it) that in this “age of information” that is around us, we are less-reliant on facts and more dependent on emotion than ever before. It’s as if we have this amazing trove of information available to us at the touch of a button, but we scan a headline, advance to the comments section and fire away whatever feels good to fire away.

Which, to be honest, is understandable. Though we were created as a nation that purports to give everybody a voice, that was never really the case until the age of the Internet descended upon us. Oh, you could stand on street corners and complain about the government without being arrested (without some extenuating circumstances), but did the average person really have a platform where they could share their thoughts with, literally, the world?

No, that was reserved for a few. The politicians, celebrities, shockingly-handsome bald newspaper columnists, sky-writers, self-indulgent screenwriters, etc., had free rein to opine whatever was on their minds at any given time, and the rest of the world was relegated to spouting off at a bar or the dinner table. But now everyone can create a blog, or pen a comment or make a post — and it can be seen in nearly every corner of the globe.

That’s good, right? Right?

No, no, no. Of course it’s a good thing. It’s actually a great thing. I’ve dedicated much of my adult life to defending and celebrating the First Amendment, and that means accepting all its warts along the way. We all deserve a chance to be heard, and it is indeed a wonderful time we live in when people have an opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions.

But I wonder if what we are seeing is either a reflection that we are fundamentally more different than I ever supposed, or if the free flow of opinions and chest-beating has created more divisiveness than ever before. Chicken or the egg? No, please don’t answer. It will only start a fight on Facebook.

We don’t see shades of gray anymore. We see black or white. We see “those who think like me” and those who are wrong. Is there any opinion, or person, that we can all agree as people is good? I’ve liked both of our past two first ladies, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama, very much. They both appeared to serve the nation with grace and a sense of purpose, and I don’t see how people can really have a problem with either of them as human beings.

But there are people who hate Laura Bush, and there are people who hate Michelle Obama.

Renewable energy? Nope, takes away too many traditional jobs. Good relationship with Russia? No, don’t trust them. Don’t want it. Tea? Can we all like tea? No, too much caffeine, and too British.

Oprah? Too succesful for some. Julia Roberts? Too Hollywood. Pope Francis? Too opinionated and political for many. Clint Eastwood? No, not even Dirty Harry.

Dolly Parton? Anybody? Come on, who can hate Dolly? There you go. The world needs more Dolly and less hate.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor — January 20, 2016

Date Published: 
Jan. 20, 2017

Reader: Faith trumps physics, for us all


An airplane in flight is controlled by four forces of nature: lift, thrust, drag and gravity. While that may be enough for most people, I add to the mix my humble view that the “collective will” of all souls on the plane keeps it in flight. In my faith, “collective will” knows not “mournful numbers” but, rather, is measured by intensity of spirit.

After a long, grueling two years, America has chosen our next president. The campaigns of the aspirants each had their unique physics. Some say candidate Clinton had more “lift” to her campaign, while others believe President-Elect Trump created some serious “drag.”

For me, the collective will of the American people carried the day: our faith in our system of government and its “checks and balances.”

So here we are, on edge, at the dawn of a new administration. Historians and political analysts will have time enough to dwell on the physics of this election. For now, Americans should muster a collective will dedicated to the notion that our country must succeed for all our sakes and the sakes of the generations following.

James Angus


Reader poses question about Trump


As Inauguration Day approaches, one appropriate question:

Would you buy a used car from this man?

John Dupont

Ocean View

Hattier responds to previous letter


As my father always says, a broken clock is right twice a day (analog only). And in this respect, I can agree with Mr. [Lloyd] Elling in several areas. Although I am a member of the IR Board, I do support vouchers. This is an issue of fairness. Those people pay taxes and ought to be able to move their tax dollars to their kids’ benefit. My school tax dollars paid for a good part of my four kids’ education. Why not let those parents that want something different for their kids do just that?

Just remember, one of the things that makes some private or charter schools better is that they don’t have the massive regulation courtesy of state and federal governments as the traditional public schools do. This allows for the teachers to be the professionals that they are and play a more direct role than they are allowed to in most public schools.

This is also what Dr. Gebhardt recommends. That doctor is on to something. Our teachers are very frustrated at times by the constraints that are placed on them by the powers that be and just might do better if allowed to do what they feel to be right and proper.

It is not the Board of Education’s or local educators’ role, however, to allow this. We are constrained by the powers that be and have to comply. We can only do what is allowed.

I strongly disagree that nepotism is practiced. Are relatives hired? Yes, but only after having completed the various requirements for the respective jobs. I am personally aware where people in higher positions recommended that their relative not be hired or were part of disciplinary action since that person being disciplined deserved discipline.

I am not sure how Mr. Elling missed the part in one of my earlier responses that many people in Sussex County are related to one another. Much more so than in the Baltimore or the Washington, D.C., area. This will no doubt change in the future, but for now it is what it is.

All school districts hire scorekeepers as part of sports. This has been in existence for 20-years-plus. Mr. Birely has graciously made certain that all of his so-called “earnings” — legal, by the way — go to the basketball boosters and other groups without him ever seeing those checks. That money goes right back into the sports programs involved. How in the world can Mr. Elling refer to this as illegal? He needs to do better homework.

I find it interesting that he also calls for all of us to resign. Dr. Bunting is so bad at her job and so corrupt that the incoming governor, who has access to all of this mess, looked at her record and said he wants her as the state DOE head.

I respect and approve of the governor’s decision, knowing just how far the IR district has come educationally under Dr. Bunting and how she might help the rest of the state improve as well. Not to mention bringing Sussex County plain thinking to the job. So in a weird way, Mr. Elling is getting what he wants. She will be resigning and retiring from the IRSD.

I am not certain how many times it has to be stated that none of us on the Board would knowingly do anything wrong. Under the state system, we are supposed to be checked annually for compliance. When that agency tells us the full 14 years I have been on the board everything is OK, then it’s OK.

I am not sure that even Mr. Elling would hire an outside firm to doublecheck what the State is already supposed to do. No other district does this. And there is no provision in the state payment structure to pay for it, either. The State assumes that their audits will give a proper picture.

None of the people that Mr. Elling wants to resign have any access to the financial system in order to check up. That is not in the purview of what we do, by state law.

No one argues that what took place didn’t happen. It did, but where was the State for 14 years to tell it was wrong? If a person chooses to engage in what some are calling criminal behavior, which by definition is criminal, and we have no way to check that, how can we stop it?

None of what transpired does anything to stop the flow of people moving into our area and overcrowding our schools. None of what transpired takes away from the many fine accomplishments that our district has had. I can’t speak for Dr. Gebhardt, but he might just approve that the district, under Dr. Bunting and her team, went out and did innovate where they could to make things better.

As I said at the beginning of this letter, a broken clock is right twice a day (analog only). In the end it is still wrong. Mr. Elling really needs to spend more time going to the meetings and learning the challenges that face not only our district but all districts.

Donald Hattier, Board Member

Indian River School District

Richard Allen School to host gala


The Richard Allen School in Georgetown opened its doors in the 1920s as one of 80 schools built for African-American children in Delaware by philanthropist Pierre S. DuPont. It continued to serve as the heart of the African-American community for over half a century. When desegregation was implemented, it became part of the Indian River School District. Six years ago, the school district decided to close the school.

In 2014, a diverse group of men and women came together to form the Richard Allen Coalition. The goal of the coalition is to restore the school so it can once again be a cultural, civic and educational center.

In 2015, the Delaware General Assembly passed a bill which deeded the building to the Richard Allen Coalition. At the bill signing in front of the school on Aug. 12, 2015, Gov. Jack Markell said, “In the end, it came down to members of the community who had a vision that they wanted to keep alive.”

In 2016, the Coalition continued the work to make their vision a reality. With your support, a consulting firm specializing in historic preservation projects was hired, and their final report is due in March 2017.

Throughout the year, Dan Parsons, Sussex County Historic Preservation Planner, has been interviewing former students of the Richard Allen School so that their experiences will become a part of the history of Sussex County. The National Historic Foundation also awarded a grant to help fulfill the vision.

Our 2nd Annual Gala will be held on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 5 p.m. at the Georgetown Cheer Center. Please consider joining us.

When Richard Allen School opened its doors, it was a beacon of hope for African-Americans living in Jim Crow Delaware. When it reopens, it will welcome all of us who want to learn about the past while helping our youth explore their talents and prepare for a wonderful future.

Please join us on our journey to open the doors of the Richard Allen School. … For more information contact Betty Deacon at (302) 644-4303.

Jane Hovington, President

Betty Deacon, Executive Director

The Richard Allen Coalition

SVFC, Auxiliary thankful for support


The Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company and its Auxiliary would like to thank the community for supporting our AUCE Spaghetti Dinner on Jan. 14.

Your enthusiasm, attendance and donations helped to make it a wonderful success, and we’re very appreciative. You’ve inspired us to do it again!

Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company & Auxiliary

Reader provides info on absentee voting


I did some research and found the phone number for the Sussex County Department of Elections, and contacted them so we could be sent the paperwork to obtain an absentee ballot for the upcoming March 2 Indian River School District referendum.

Full- or part-time residents can vote in that specific school referendum election whether or not you vote elsewhere for regular elections. We are having the paperwork sent to obtain absentee ballots. I am sure there are many Indian River School District taxpayers who may not be in town the day of the referendum, and may have an interest in the outcome. Many do not know how to participate in this election.

Simply call (302) 856-5367 and request the paperwork. The election is less than two months away. The last vote, a few months ago, was very close — only a 20-vote differential.

Ed Wagman

Ocean View

Reader questions Tillerson’s nomination


Rex Tillerson, a man with no diplomatic experience, to serve as Secretary of State — he spent 41 years in the oil business and oversaw the funding and dispersal of fake science on carbon’s impact on climate — be trusted to act in the best interest of our country and planet?

Reports have confirmed that Exxon executives knew that carbon emissions were fueling global warming in the 1970s. Yet they continued to publish misinformation, while using calculations of dwindling sea ice to work with Russia on future projects in the Artic.

Although Tillerson acknowledged the science of climate change in 2007, he has persisted in funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), who perpetuate lies about carbon-induced climate change. Exxon has written off $1.7 million in charitable contributions to ALEC.

As CEO of Exxon, Tillerson has participated in a long and systemic campaign to lie about climate change and used the courts to block us from learning the truth. For decades, he put personal and corporate interest above the welfare of our planet.

I ask Sens. Carper and Coons to vote against this nominee. Rex Tillerson cannot be trusted to fulfill the duties of Secretary of State.

Kit Zak