Ocean View Police Chief Kenneth McLaughlin, during his monthly report to the Ocean View Town Council at their Tuesday, Jan. 12, meeting, said a newly hired officer has been sworn in.
Officer Conner Watkins will graduate from the New Castle County Police Academy this week. Audience size is limited due to coronavirus restrictions, but he would be there, McLaughlin said.
Mayor John Reddington, Town Manager Carol Houck and McLaughlin were present for Watkins’ swearing-in last week, followed by a luncheon for members of his immediate family, the chief said.
Police department accreditation progress
McLaughlin said that, in the quest to receive accreditation by the state’s police commission, the department’s policies have been reviewed and found to be contemporary, with best practices in place.
“We received a very good review,” McLaughlin said.
By staying compliant with state procedures, the police department is eligible for federal grants, he said.
“I anticipate we will be officially accredited before the summer. I’m looking forward to that. It’s a lot of work behind the scenes for the last 20 years to get us up to this point. Kudos to the staff for all of the hard work they do,” he said.
Councilman Frank Twardzik said police work is 99 percent reports “and I commend the chief and everyone in the department for what they have accomplished, because it is no small task,” he said.
Councilman Bruce White said he was pleased everyone on the force has received the first round of vaccinations to protect against COVID-19 and that he hoped they would receive the second vaccination soon.
White asked if the new miniature-golf course in Ocean View has caused any traffic jams or accidents, as some had feared. McLaughlin said there have not been any complaints and that many Ocean View residents patronize the miniature-golf course and adjoining ice cream shop.
Town manager’s report
Houck said the project to upgrade the municipal building on Central Avenue is complete and went smoothly. Landscaping is finished around the new sign and a low stone border will be erected in the near future.
Disinfecting playground equipment, by spraying it, has stopped due to cold weather and will likely continue in the spring. Temporary signs have been posted to remind walkers to pick up after their pets, she said.
Houck said the Town received “a great deal of positive reinforcement” and comments about Christmas decorations and the walking trail at John West Park during the holiday season.
Spring concerts moving to fall
Houck said spring concerts set to be hosted by the Town will be rescheduled for fall “to give us time to evaluate the situation with the pandemic” and make any necessary changes.
“Otherwise, we’re looking forward to bringing everything back if we can, and I’d like to try,” she said.
Reddington agreed that delaying the concerts is wise and said he hopes residents will be vaccinated against the virus by fall.
Government-access channel coming soon
Houck said the new government-access channel will soon launch and be available on Mediacom’s Channel 78.
“We already have our minds spinning on creative things to be able to name it. We’ll share those ideas with you in the near future,” Houck said.
Ocean View residents will be able to get updates about local matters, and watch town council meetings, on the channel — made available as part of the non-exclusive franchise agreement between the Town and Mediacom.
“Everybody who lives in Ocean View will have the government-access channel. They will be able to tune in every day if they want, at least every week,” Houck had said last summer, when the matter was discussed at a town council meeting. Mediacom will cover the cost and make an estimated $55,000 investment to support the channel.
“The cable franchise requires the cable company to provide a government-access channel, but the Town of Ocean View had never asked before. In negotiations for renewal, I was familiar with it, so I asked. It always was available. It’s in the agreement, but for whatever reason, no one said, ‘OK, yeah, we’d like to have that.’
“It’s such a quick and easy way to keep people informed about everything — so much better from the first one I was involved with, where we were very static. Now you can have videos. It will be a plus for us because of our population and the make-up of it,” Houck said.
The agreement will not force changes to residents’ home cable TV or Internet provider.
The government access channel will be updated regularly, but the Town won’t have to hire anyone to manage it. That will be done by Houck, with the town clerk and other staff, as necessary.
Praise for town employees
Councilman Tom Maly thanked town employees for continuing to provide services without interruption since the pandemic began.
Board of Election members approved
The town council unanimously approved members who will serve on the Board of Election.
Members are Baptist Damiano and Colleen Twardzik, with terms expiring in May 2023. Alternate members are Caryn Cleveland-Short, Richard Birkmeyer and Marilyn Sheets, for three-year terms expiring in May 2024.
Steve Cobb will fill Tom Sylvia’s unexpired term, through May this year.