WEEKEND #1, 2022
(Memorial Day Weekend)
May 31, 2022
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
REHOBOTH POLICE SEARCH FOR PROLIFIC GRAFFITI SUSPECT(S)
Rehoboth Beach police officers have been investigating a widespread graffiti attack that was discovered early last week. What is troubling about this attack is how prolific it was. The vandal or vandals struck a few downtown businesses, some inside and others outside. They also tagged trash cans, parking meter pay stations, benches, street signs, and even the Lake Gerar Tot Lot shown here.
Hugh Fuller, owner of the Purple Parrot Restaurant & Bar, was outraged when he found graffiti in his restroom and is offering a $1000 reward. He said police are looking through his surveillance video for leads.
Someone even etched into the bathroom mirrors. "We can paint over the graffiti but carving into the mirrors isn't cheap to replace," he pointed out. Fuller soon discovered that he was among several other businesses that were victims. He also noted that the inside of the Sandcastle Motel, which is under renovation, was also targeted, and this is the front door of Freddie's Beach Bar.
Around the corner, the rear of Aroma Mediterranean Cuisine was tagged as well.
"This is an ongoing investigation that we are not prepared to release details on at this time," Lt. Jaime Riddle said this past Friday. "I can advise that there have been multiple incidents of graffiti and investigators are actively working on the case," he said, noting that if anybody who was a victim or was a witness or has knowledge of any suspect(s) to please call the police at 302-227-2577.
"This may be a case where we turn to the public for assistance in identifying suspect(s), but we are not to that point yet," he said. "Once I am certain that it will not negatively affect the investigation, I will provide further information/requests, he added.
Some photos courtesy Hugh Fuller and Pam McCoy
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BELLMOOR "GOLF CART" FOUND ABANDONED ON BEACH
Rehoboth Beach police received an odd report that the Bellmoor Inn golf cart (technically a "low-speed vehicle") had been involved in a hit-and-run on Philadelphia Street around 3 a.m. Monday. It was nowhere to be found!
After some investigation, it became apparent that the vehicle had been stolen. Around 4 a.m., the operator running the beach sweeper found the dark green vehicle stuck in the sand near Norfolk Street.
Public works crews later helped pull it from the beach. Benjamin Gray, area general manager for EOS Hospitality, declined to comment on Monday as it was an ongoing police investigation.
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HIGHWAY SAFETY PROGRAMS IN JEOPARDY STARTING JUNE 1
Police agencies throughout Delaware that have relied on federal funds to enforce important highway safety initiatives will likely find themselves without funding on June 1. This comes just as the programs are in demand with increased summer activity.
"It is with extreme disappointment that I must notify you that we are suspending project agreements effective June 1st, 2022 for law enforcement agencies receiving a flat rate of $65.00 per hour for the Delaware Office of Highway Safety (OHS) overtime traffic safety enforcement pay rate," Kimberly Chesser, OHS director, wrote in this memo which was sent to police agencies last Tuesday.
The federally-funded OHS programs have been staples of Delaware highway safety for years and cover everything from impaired driving to pedestrian safety and seat-belt enforcement initiatives and are enforced by various Delaware municipal police typically with overtime pay. During previous summers, Rehoboth Beach police have participated in various OHS programs including seat-belt and distracted-driver checks like this one during Memorial Day Weekend on Rehoboth Avenue in 2019.
"As you are aware," Chesser's memo explains, "our funding for the OHS overtime traffic safety enforcement comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). OHS was advised notified [sic] by NHTSA at the end of last week that there are concerns that this practice does not comply with the Federal Super Circular, and we must stop this practice effective June 1st."
The $65 flat-rate hourly wage has been in place for several years, but the memo indicates that "there is new attention on this and OHS was advised by NHTSA that they need to take swift action and cannot allow OHS to continue with this practice. Please know that we are diligently working through this issue to obtain clear guidance on how to proceed and want to resolve this as quickly as possible."
So what exactly is the problem?
Both Chesser and Arshon Howard, Department of Safety and Homeland Security spokesman, provided various statements that did not specifically answer the question.
"It is too early to know the full impact of this directive," Chesser wrote in an email response. "We are conducting an internal review and working closely with NHTSA. We are hopeful that we can resolve this in short order so that our summer programs will not be adversely affected. The Office of Highway Safety handles a variety of programming and this matter does not affect every project or police agency in the state. We are committed to our mission to save lives by preventing injuries and fatalities due to traffic crashes and are working towards a swift resolution," she added.
Howard stated that "This matter only impacts overtime enforcement to law enforcement agencies. While overtime enforcement is an important part [of] our highway safety program, it is only a small part of our overall budget (approximately 15%)."
But that 15 percent of the overall OHS budget has been important to funding municipal police officers working these highway safety programs. Like most agencies throughout Delaware, Lt. Jaime Riddle, Rehoboth Beach police spokesman, says they partner with OHS to implement targeted enforcement in association with various public safety campaigns determined through national and statewide research.
"The suspension of OHS initiatives is very unfortunate for not only for the citizens and visitors of Rehoboth Beach," Lt. Riddle stated, "but for the entire State of Delaware. Over the years I am certain that the efforts of OHS have saved numerous lives and will continue to do so in the future; however, currently without the funding if the need arises for targeted enforcement, it will have to be researched and funded by the city." RBPD officers frequently worked these OHS pedestrian safety programs in previous summers, among the other OHS initiatives.
Sgt. Clifford Dempsey, Dewey Beach police spokesman, stressed the importance of these highway safety funds especially in a town that has a major highway passing through its center with as many as 40,000 visitors a weekend. Using these funds, he pointed out, officers are able to specifically enforce traffic safety and help prevent a major catastrophe. They cannot provide the same level of enforcement without the state funding and may have to explore using the town's general fund for such highway safety enforcement, he said.
A spokeswoman from NHTSA, the federal agency that oversees the grants, would only say in an email on Friday that "NHTSA values our partnership with States and the important role they have in advancing traffic safety, including their engagement with law enforcement. The Agency is working with the Delaware Office of Traffic Safety and we hope to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, but have not set a timeline."
When asked if the Maryland Highway Safety Office was experiencing similar funding problems, Anna Levendusky, MHSO spokeswoman, pointed out that "Consistent with guidance from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, MDOT MVA's Highway Safety Office pays law enforcement agencies that are grantees the overtime rate of their agency – they are not paid the same flat rate across the State."
The Delaware OHS overtime rate has been fixed at $65 per hour. But Sgt. Dempsey pointed out that DBPD officers who work these patrols are paid the full $65 hourly rate.
FOUR-VEHICLE PILE-UP SNARLS TRAFFIC IN DEWEY
This was perhaps a good example of the type of distracted-driving crash that Sgt. Clifford Dempsey was thinking of when it comes to Coastal Highway in Dewey Beach. He said a motorist had stopped here Sunday night for a pedestrian near New Orleans Street. Two other cars were behind that one when a fourth motorist came down the center and crashed into the other three.
Amazingly, none of those involved required an ambulance. He said the one driver was issued a traffic citation.
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TEEN IN WHEELCHAIR ACCUSED OF SHOPLIFTING
When Rehoboth Beach police received a report that two teens had allegedly shoplifted from a convenience store around 4 p.m. this past Friday, it did not take long to locate one of the suspects. That was because he was described as being in a wheelchair.
Police caught up with this young man on Rehoboth Avenue at the boardwalk.
After taking him back to the convenience store with the items they had supposedly taken, store management declined to press charges. He returned several items and paid for others. Police then returned him to the boardwalk.
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MEMORIAL DAY SERVICE AT THE REHOBOTH BEACH BANDSTAND
Cape Henlopen High School Army JROTC color guard...
National Anthem sung by Joy Schreck...
Cmdr. Tom Dahl, Henlopen American Legion Post 5, with invited guests.
YOU KNOW THE PRESIDENT IS COMING TO REHOBOTH WHEN...
The FAA issues a VIP Movement Notification for Rehoboth Beach.
Mysterious trucks with GSA license plates and "Clubs" on the steering wheels park behind city hall.
And Dr. Jill Biden's birthday is June 3!
SEAN KELLEY ART & FRIENDS CELEBRATES 5TH SUMMER
Sean Kelley Art & Friends hosted an opening for their artist co-op gallery in Rehoboth Beach's Penny Lane Mall this past Saturday. "This is our fifth summer having the gallery but it's the second year in a row that we've won Delaware Today, the best gallery readers pick downstate," Kelley said.
The co-op consists of four artists. Kelley is a photographer and the man who started the gallery. Lisa Miller specializes in fine art oil paintings. Gandhi Hurwitz prints photos on wood, metal, acrylic, canvas and paper. And Audrey Mason, a ceramic artist, has replaced Angelica Clemmer who recently opened her own place.
"We have pretty much something for everybody you know," Kelley points out, noting that they have done well with wall decor for years but are fortunate to have Mason and her pottery, coffee mugs and plates which are all microwavable and dishwasher safe. It's like a mini-Ikea store at the beach!
The gallery is open every day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Labor Day.
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RBM OPENS CAPE HENLOPEN LIGHTHOUSE EXHIBITION
The new exhibition at the Rehoboth Beach Museum not only documents the interesting history of the Cape Henlopen lighthouse, it also focuses on the lighthouse as a symbol, an icon and an attraction for visitors and locals and as a popular subject for artists.
"It's an image that we see everywhere in town, everywhere in the area," says David McDonald who curated the exhibition with Roland Forster. "It's one of the most popular images of the Delaware coast in general. So it has a special significance to us emotionally and historically and artistically," he points out. The lighthouse is found throughout our region on all sorts of items and documents.
He says the exhibition features two major focal points: the Wyeth lighthouse and the Leach painting of the lighthouse.
McDonald explained that the model of the lighthouse was made by, or was made for, Andrew Wyeth. His wife, Betsy, had commissioned it in 1971 as a Christmas gift. It eventually found its way into the museum's collection with the help of Mark Aguirre, a former board member and city commissioner.
The other main focal point is the painting behind the reception desk. That's an Ethel Pennewill Brown Leach painting of the lighthouse which is on loan from the Rehoboth Art League as part of its collection.
The lighthouse stood for 160 years before it fell in 1926, leaving behind a fascinating history that charms us still today. The museum will host a reception for this exhibition for members on June 16. It will remain on display through Labor Day. Details are on the Rehoboth Beach Museum website.
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RAE HAMILTON OPENS "THE QUALITIES OF LIGHT" AT GALLERY 50
"What is most important to me and my work is light," says Rae Hamilton, who opened his latest exhibition, The Qualities of Light, with his wife this past Friday at Rehoboth's Gallery 50.
"Light defines everything," he explains. "I mean, if you have a chair in a dark room, you can't see the chair. Right? So it changes depending on the direction of light, how bright the light is. So everything you see in nature is that way too.... depends on where the light is coming from. How late in the day it is, the angle, the shadows, that all depends on the light!"
Hamilton wrote newspapers and newsletters for government agencies, think-tanks and trade groups for 30 to 40 years. But he always loved art and enjoyed drawing images with crayons when he was in the first or second grade.
He was in the Navy when his father's best friend, who was a primitive painter, died. "His wife gave his paints to my dad and my dad had no use for them. So he came to me and that's when I first started painting when I was 20-years-old," he added, "and I worked at it while I was working as an editor for many years on the weekends."
Hamilton retired when he was 59 and has been painting full-time ever since.
This exhibition of oil paintings will be on display through June 14. Please see the Gallery 50 website for info.
THIS IS THE FIRST WEEKEND UPDATE FOR 2022!
We are back, but just barely. As my mother's only caregiver, I expect to have limited range and mobility again this summer. So I am especially grateful for photos and news tips.
Please keep the emails, articles, announcements and news releases coming. Many thanks to our photographer friends, contributors, WGMD Radio and the sponsors who help cover the MailChimp fees. We appreciate your continued support.
Special thanks also to Joe Bradley for the wonderful banner photo he provided for this report.
PHOTOS OF THE WEEK
Looking north toward Rehoboth Avenue around 11 a.m. Saturday by Rick Tananis...
Closer look at the beach at Baltimore Avenue around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday...
The steep dune crossing at Baltimore Avenue...
DEAD SEA TURTLE WASHES ASHORE NEAR THE HENLOPEN HOTEL--- The MERR Institute investigated the death of a loggerhead which was found last Wednesday morning near the Henlopen jetty. Photos and info are in Chris Flood's Cape Gazette article.
MAN COLLAPSES IN CARDIAC ARREST ON BROADKILL BEACH--- A 73-year-old man collapsed around 8 a.m. Monday on the south end of Broadkill Beach on the beach side of the vehicle crossing from a suspected medical problem. He remained in cardiac arrest as he was taken to the hospital.
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