The Sussex County Council, at their Tuesday, Oct. 20, meeting, agreed to consider donating to the annual Delaware Goes Purple Awareness Campaign, to help those dealing with substance abuse.

Last year, the council approved a $5,000 sponsorship.

Peggy Geisler of the Sussex County Health Coalition told council members on Tuesday that the number of addicts is not decreasing, but increasing.

“Since the pandemic has occurred, it has continued to rise. We are No. 2 in the country and fastly approaching West Virginia, which is No. 1, for overdose deaths,” Geisler said.

“The awareness campaign is ongoing, and the organization offers counseling and support groups,” she said, adding that the annual budget is $78,000 — much less than the millions of dollars some other states have to work with. Even so, she said, last year the campaign reached 150,000 people statewide.

“I think that’s pretty impactful,” she said.

She said virtual pledge cards, and lawn and promotional signs are available. Organizers have been guests on local TV talk shows and a recovering addict publicly shared his story.

Delaware Legislative Hall was lit in purple on Oct. 19, and both of the major bridges across the state also had purple lights, Geisler said.

“This really is a grassroots effort. We have all three major hospitals behind this. We really are proud that this is a community effort. This is preventable. We want to provide help for people, and we want them to know where they can get help. There is no shortage of people suffering from this epidemic,” she said.

She said the organization doesn’t raise enough money to cover all costs, so much is donated. All money given by the council will help children in the community, as council members requested, she said.

Farm-use animal discussion

The council on Tuesday also discussed how many animals should be permitted on certain-sized lots.

Council President Mike Vincent said it was discussion only and no decision would be made.

Vincent said he has heard concerns from county residents who asked if a property owner with 1 acre of land can keep the same number of farm animals — chickens, cows, goat, pigs — as someone who has 5 acres.

“Some people have lots on sides of roadways, and somebody builds house on those lots, then in the back yard there are a lot of animals. Some people think that is too much. I’m not saying they are opposed to having a couple chickens in the back yard, but if you have … all these animals out back, it seems to be, maybe, excess,” Vincent said.

“A small lot could be full of animals and neighbors are concerned about the quantity, a lot of animals, on a small piece of land,” Vincent said.

Councilman John Rieley said state agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, inspect animal operations if the total weight of combined animals reaches 8,000 pounds.

“At that level, you would be required to have a management plan in place to take care of the manure — say, have it spread on a field. That could be eight 1,000-pound cows, a combination of hogs, cows and sheep, or anything that would equal 8,000 pounds,” he said.

Rieley said the concern is not on 4 or 5 acres, but how many animals are being kept on half- or three-quarter-acre parcels.

Council members reviewed definitions, including for commercial feed lot and structure, private feed lot and structure, and private stables, and what land may be used for on a farm of 5 acres or more.

It may be used for agriculture, including “horticultural, hydroponic, chemical or general farming, truck gardens, cultivating of field crops, orchards, groves or nurseries for growing or propagation of plants, trees and shrubs, forest use (tree farming), including use of heavy cultivating machinery, spray planes or irrigating machinery, dairy farming, keeping or raising for sale of large or small animals, reptiles, fish, birds or poultry and including structures for processing and sale of products raised on the premises,” according to County regulations.

Resident supports implementing impact fees to benefit schools

During the public comments portion of the Sussex County Council meeting, a county resident who identified himself as a senior citizen on a fixed income asked council members to start implementing impact fees and to use the millions of dollars that would be generated to build new schools, as is done in New Castle and Kent counties.

In New Castle County, he said, developers pay a one-time fee when applying for building permits and New Castle County collects more than $5,000 for each, then passes the money on to the school district.

He said it’s “an obvious choice for Sussex County to proceed with this legislation” that would have the support of senior citizens and parents of thousands of students, regardless of objections they would get “from developers who will cry, ‘Poor mouth.’”

Vincent thanked him for his comments.

Staff Reporter

Veteran news reporter Susan Canfora has written for many newspapers and held positions ranging from managing editor to her favorite, news reporter. She joined the Coastal Point in June 2019. She teaches college writing, tutors and professionally edits.