Three newly hired Millsboro Police officers were greeted with applause when they were introduced at the Millsboro Town Council meeting this week.
The council approved increasing the police force above the current complement until retirements are complete and also approved sending the officers to the police academy for training, beginning on Monday, April 12.
The officers are Travis Shockley of Seaford and Bryan Jones and Cole Revel of Millsboro. Jones and Revel are both former students of Mayor Michelle Truitt, who is Millsboro Middle School teacher.
Police Chief Brian Calloway said two of the officers will replace Sgt. Barry Wheatley, who will retire in October and pursue a career in public safety, and another officer who plans to retire but hasn’t officially announced it yet.
The third will replace the position left vacant when an officer assumed duties of a school resource officer.
“The school funds that resource officer. We were never able to replace that officer and fill his position until now,” Calloway said, adding the three new officers are “all great guys that have wanted to dedicate their lives to police work.”
The starting salary for a Millsboro police officer is $46,460.
Farmer’s Market to open in May
Vendors selling an array of items from fudge to freshly harvested vegetables will return to the Millsboro Farmers Market for the second year.
The Farmers Market will be in the Town Hall parking lot from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday from May 15 to Sept. 25, Mayor Michelle Truitt said after the town council approved the event.
Some vendors want to come back and new ones are interested, Truitt said, adding all coronavirus safety guidelines must continue to be followed.
Councilman James Kells thanked the mayor, who brought the Farmers Market back to town after a several-year absence, and said it was successful in 2020, when it opened on Saturday, June 13, and continued on Saturdays throughout the summer, offering strawberries, blueberries, corn, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, honey, coffee, baked goods, fudge and other appealing goods.
Vendors included Adkins Produce in Long Neck, Parsons Produce in Dagsboro, Fresh Harvest Hydroponics & Seafood in Millsboro and The Point Coffee & Bakery in Rehoboth Beach.
Art League fails to pay rent; discussion in May planned
Organizers of the Greater Millsboro Art League will be asked to attend the Monday, May 3, town council meeting to discuss their failure to pay rent in February and March and the future of the building they rent.
Councilman Larry Gum said nobody seems to be at the building, at 203 Main Street, very often and if they can’t pay the rent “there doesn’t seem to be a good fit.”
“It’s an art league in name only,” he said, adding organizers might want to look for another location if they can’t afford to pay the town $550 each month. The town pays for utilities including gas, electric, and water and sewer. During the past 18 months, the town has paid $1,911 in electric bills and $2,021 for propane, Matthew Hall, Director of Finance and Technology, told the Council.
Town Manager Sheldon Hudson said from the Town’s perspective, “the property has economic development possibilities” and could be home to a business such as a café.
“The arts have value, but there are payment issues and other historical challenges we have faced. The building does seem to be vacant a lot,” Hudson said.
Kells asked if there have been inquiries from potential buyers or renters and Hudson said no, but the town hasn’t advertised it.
“My sense is you’re going to see a lot of increased interest in the downtown with pavers going in. There is an opportunity here,” Hudson said, referring to new sidewalks downtown and other upgrades.
Hudson suggested, and the council agreed, someone from the Art League must attend the May council meeting.
Police Department Bike Rodeo
The Millsboro Police Department’s annual Bike Rodeo is planned for Saturday, Oct. 9, Chief Calloway announced, adding officers will give out equipment and fire safety will be promoted. The event was postponed until fall, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Sponsored by the police department, and in partnership with the Delaware Department of Transportation, the rodeos are traditionally set up in the parking lot of Lowe’s Home Improvement and give participants an opportunity to learn how to ride safely. Attendees receive helmets and lights, free of charge.
“We provide this bike equipment for the safety of our children. Kids under 16 have to wear a bike helmet and we want to be sure they have them. Also at the bike rodeo, they will be shown how to safely ride a bike through a couple obstacle courses. The officers will talk to them about hand signals and general bike safety,” Calloway has said about previous rodeos.
Youth to learn about police duties
The Millsboro Police Department will offer a Youth Academy from Monday, June 28, to Friday, July 2.
“The good news is, we are able to have it,” Calloway told the council, although only 15 students will be permitted due to coronavirus restrictions.
Calloway said the Youth Academy was planned after the successful Citizens’ Police Academy for adults that attracted more than 20 participants in the fall of 2019.
“This one will be geared toward kids who have an interest in law enforcement, but not just kids who want to be police officers. We are looking for civic-minded kids. We want to develop positive relationships between police officers and youth. What happens with kids is, there are fewer programs for them in those early years. This would be great for team-building exercises, everything from learning how to work together to completing certain exercises.
“This will be the first time we have ever done anything like this in Millsboro. Another agency that has put on a junior police academy is Georgetown. It is in collaboration with their school resource officer program,” Calloway said.
Funding changes for police department
The Council approved Police Chief Brian Calloway’s request to change the allocation of $1,473 in grant money to buy gun lockers and a surveillance camera with hardware and mounts.
Council also approved using a $5,000 grant from the Sussex County Council to pay for equipment for three new police officers including tasers, handguns, gun belts and other items on a list of 21 each officer needs.
Traffic flow improves at Dunkin’
Police Chief Brian Calloway said changes to the drive-through window at Dunkin’ on Route 113 North and Old Landing Road, made by the owner, has solved the problem of cars backing up onto Old Landing Road.
“We were trying to get cars off the roadway. What they have done there at Dunkin’ has achieved that. We have gotten vehicles off the road, so I’m pleased to report our staff is not tasked with being there every morning,” Calloway told the town council.
In June last year, town officials met with the owner to figure out how to alleviate traffic jams caused by vehicles stopping at the doughnut shop and overflowing onto Old Landing Road while waiting to get to the drive-through window. Council members agreed to suggest the owner use a pervious, or porous, stormwater solution and add directional markings on the pavement so drivers don’t block the intersection.
At that time, Councilman John Thoroughgood said the Dunkin’ owner has a good problem. “He’s busy and that’s a good thing, I guess,” he said. Thoroughgood said the restaurant doesn’t have much seating, so making two drive-throughs could be beneficial.
At the request of a representative from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Millsboro, the Council approved a 4th of July Children’s Parade. The event was canceled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Children will remain on the church labyrinth and in the parking lot and not be in the street, the representative clarified.