WEEKEND #14, 2017
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
DEWEY CONTROVERSY CONTINUES AS ELECTION SEASON PEAKS
Voters will soon elect commissioners who will decide the fate of the town manager
The news reporters attending the Dewey Beach Civic League's annual candidates' forum Saturday night put down their pens, stopped taking notes, walked out frequently for a smoke, and some even left early. The story this campaign season has already been written. It is not about nuisance bars, pedestrian safety, flooding fears, the building height restrictions, or even the CDP. Regardless of how well Dewey's image has improved under the current commissioners, this election is a referendum on the embattled town manager, Marc Appelbaum, and the town commissioners who support what they say is an important investigative process, while the newcomers are prepared to oust him or at least place him on immediate suspension.
The forum, hosted at the Dewey Beach Lions Club, was attended by about 80 property owners and was thoughtfully catered once again by Steve "Monty" Montgomery of The Starboard.
Even many of the critics agree that under Mayor Dale H. Cooke and Comm. Diane Hanson, who served as the previous mayor, the town's image has been consistently improving. "We have had a long record of steady improvements and we would like to continue that progress," Comm. Hanson stated. "I believe that people, some, not all, are upset about the situation with the town manager. But they have to trust us... that we are doing the right thing... that everyone is innocent until proven guilty... that they have a right to due process and that we will be through that process soon and we will have more information in about a week or two."
Sitting beside Comm. Hanson was Mayor Cooke. "I want people to know most that I am an honest person and I am doing what's right for Dewey," Mayor Cooke stated. "I get paid nothing for doing this job, and I am doing it because I like Dewey Beach... The people who actually take the time and understand the situation know that we can only say so much. The other people can say anything they want and accuse us of anything they want and we can't come back with anything because we're limited because of the possibility of lawsuits and because of the rights of the employees and we are trying to protect all the employees' rights and they're using it as a wedge item for the election... We're going to protect all the employees' rights whether it gets me votes or causes me to lose the election, whichever way it goes... The employees are the most important thing," Mayor Cooke added.
Comm. Hanson and Mayor Cooke are battling the three newcomers for the three commissioner seats up for grabs. The winners will decide the fate of the town manager. Jill Compello, Paul Bauer and T.J. John E. Redefer III, shown below, are anxious to take the Dewey bull by its horns and place Appelbaum on immediate suspension.
"There is only one thing we need to fix," Bauer says, "and we got to figure out what we are going to do with our town manager to get this ship righted. That is the main problem we have been having. There are other things we can work on, but that's the main one."
Although they sounded similar, Redefer describes the three of them as "independent candidates, but will work together in an effort to hit the reset button." Each candidate plans their individual campaign signs, but they will also have a few that feature all three names as well. "We will also be saving money by sending our individual fliers out together," Redefer said. "If I am elected," he added, "we will immediately take action to correct this human resources spectacle that is going on right now."
"I represent change for Dewey Beach," Compello states. "I want to see things change here. I think that there are a lot of great people here... The Town of Dewey is amazing. I don't want Dewey to change. I want the way that government is taking care of business to change... I think he [Appelbaum] needs to be suspended with pay and that needs to happen immediately because if not, his contract is going to rollover, and we are going to have him for two more years... I think that Paul and TJ are with me and my feelings about change and a change of leadership is needed in Dewey Beach."
This past week, Richard Cross, the attorney representing the town's employees who lodged the complaint against the town manager, accused employees in town hall of shredding documents pertinent to the investigation. See Chris Flood's Cape Gazette article for details. But Comm. Hanson said nothing relevant to the investigation was shredded and that "Cross accuses us of something daily just to keep the press involved and make town hall look bad."
Comm. Hanson is so far the only candidate to be hosting a public event. She is once again inviting Dewey Beach property owners to a reception at her home to meet her and Mayor Cooke next Sunday, September 3, at 5 Van Dyke Avenue between 4 and 7 p.m. Please RSVP via e-mail.
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DRUNK DRIVER TOPPLES REHOBOTH FIRE HYDRANT, FLEES ON FOOT
Rehoboth Beach police arrested a woman this past Tuesday after she jumped the curb while driving this Pontiac G6, toppling a fire hydrant and eventually fleeing the investigating officer on foot.
The accident was reported around 4:23 p.m. at Christian Street and Scarborough Avenue. That is where officers found the driver, Gillie M. Tice, 39, of Dagsboro. About 20 minutes later, as the reporting officer was completing accident paperwork in his patrol car, police said Tice fled the scene running through the Walls Apartments.
Officers searched for her for about 30 minutes until they finally captured her near the Bellmoor Inn & Spa. Once captured, police said Tice showed signs of intoxication. She was taken to the Rehoboth Beach Police Department for further sobriety testing.
Police said Tice was arrested and charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest, driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, failing to drive in proper lane, driving over or upon a curb, expired registration, failure to sign and carry a driver's license and failure to have insurance identification in possession. She has since been released on a $2000 unsecured bail.
The fire hydrant was promptly repaired by the water department the following morning!
SWIMMING ADVISORY ISSUED FOR REHOBOTH DESPITE NO RAIN
When the red no-swimming flag and swimming advisory sign went up this past Thursday afternoon at Rehoboth Avenue, Travis Michels, former WMDT-TV meteorologist and current RBP lifeguard who was sitting on this stand, became responsible for keeping visitors out of the ocean in the vicinity of Rehoboth Avenue. Why just there? That is because Rehoboth Avenue is one of four sampling points that DNREC uses in Rehoboth Beach to test the water quality during the summer. The other three sampling locations in town are Deauville, Virginia Avenue and Queen Street, which DNREC says tested negative this past week.
According to the DNREC website, the Rehoboth Avenue sample that triggered the swimming advisory had been taken on Wednesday. This unexplained spike in indicator bacteria levels was a mystery because there had been no measurable rain since the previous sample was taken last Monday. DNREC says it retested the water on Thursday and the advisory was lifted by Friday afternoon.
Sharon Lynn, Rehoboth Beach city manager, says the city notified GHD engineers to keep this event in mind as they test their samples from this past week. The contractor is conducting a storm water sampling project to better understand what is happening.
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STILL LITTLE HOPE FOR SEAGULLS INJURED IN REHOBOTH
Teens flee after crippling seagull on Wilmington Avenue last Tuesday
This is a situation where a problem exists and solutions are not being sought. It's been six years since we last examined how Rehoboth Beach handles injured seagulls, many of which are injured by humans, and little has changed.
The city's unwritten policy this year has lifeguards moving injured birds to the sand dunes while police typically relocate the birds to the banks of the Rehoboth-Lewes Canal, known by police as the "Rehoboth Bird Sanctuary."
The police have to be commended for going after persons responsible for injuring the birds. Last year police charged this Canadian man after his daughter beat a bird to death on the beach at Wilmington Avenue. This past Tuesday evening, another officer attempted to locate three teenage boys who crippled this bird also in the area of Wilmington Avenue.
According to a witness, the three boys lured the bird and then broke its wing. But by the time police arrived and obtained a description, the teens were gone.
The officer later carried the injured seagull in a box from Wilmington Avenue and moved it to the dunes south of Hickman Street.
Once the birds are injured, what then? In years past, Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research had been contacted. The injured bird would be captured and wait pickup. But local bird rescue volunteers and transporters are often hard to find, and when they are contacted by city officials, an injured bird may wait overnight in a box somewhere for pickup, assuming a volunteer becomes available. It can be logistically complicated and sometimes, nobody comes.
What are officials to do? Lisa Smith, Tri-State's executive director, says her organization's ability to help depends on its volunteer network. People should call when in doubt, she says. They will also accept birds delivered directly to the Newark facility, and sometimes they can work out a relay. They are always searching for volunteers. "It is hard to cover the entire region," she added.
Michael Globetti, spokesman for DNREC, says DNREC's Division of Fish & Wildlife personnel respond to reports of injured birds on a case-by-case basis, working closely in partnership with Tri-State.
Across the state line in Ocean City, the town there has two civilian animal control officers. One of the officers, Amanda Mills, says they too work with Tri-State and Tri-State volunteers along the Maryland and Delaware coast to assist with transport and/or care of the bird. "If the bird/animal is injured beyond help we will humanely put them to sleep," she adds. Mills also suggests that people in Rehoboth Beach determine their local rehabbers, zoos, rescues and other individuals who would be able to help them with not only birds but wildlife and other animals as well.
Dick Byrne, a member of the Rehoboth Beach Animal Issues committee, says this topic could come up before the committee for discussion. "Hopefully one of the commissioners will be named chair of this committee in the very near future," he adds, noting that outgoing-Comm. Lorraine Zellers was the committee's chairwoman.
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DUMPSTER FIRE LEAVES BURNT SHRIMP SMELL IN DOWNTOWN REHOBOTH
A dumpster in the rear of Ristorante Zebra burst into flames around 8 p.m. Friday, leaving parts of downtown Rehoboth Beach smelling like burnt shrimp.
The porches/decks at both the Zebra and the nearby Stingray Sushi Bar + Asian Latino Grill were filled with customers at the time. Police attempted to battle the blaze using a couple of fire extinguishers while a restaurant employee fought the fire with a garden hose. Firefighters arrived a couple minutes later and gave it a good dousing.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT BOARDWALK TRASH PICKUPS?
Earlier this summer, the city suspended trash removal at the bandstand during performances. But mid-day or peak-hour trash removal from the boardwalk will continue using the large trash truck for the time being. "Large refuse trucks on the boardwalk during peak times of the season has been an ongoing issue discussed in the city for many years," says Sharon Lynn, city manager. "Working with the streets [department] superintendent, we've consistently explored new ways to pick up trash and, to date, no solution has been approved. This past budget cycle we introduced the idea of a smaller size refuse truck, but that was not approved," she pointed out.
"There is not any thought to suspend trash pick-up during peak hours as that would certainly exacerbate the issue of too much trash," Lynn added. "Alternate methods are always being sought after."
Mayor-elect Paul Kuhns says he expects this to be a future discussion item, after September 15.
TRAFFIC MONITORING EQUIPMENT MYSTERY
These odd devices appeared on Rehoboth Avenue last week. Sharon Lynn, Rehoboth Beach city manager, says DelDOT had placed the equipment at the circle. "To my knowledge they are monitoring traffic there," she said.
But oddly, Robert B. King, DelDOT spokesman, said on Friday that he has checked with various DelDOT personnel and none of them had ordered a study here.
A label on the devices shows they are owned by Tri-State Traffic Data. According to the company's website, Tri-State Traffic performs data collection for small, individual and large, statewide projects including: automatic traffic recorders counts, classification/speed studies, directional turning movement counts, origin-destination surveys, license plate surveys and pedestrian/bicycle counts.
This is a close-up of the device mounted at the top of the pole.
So far, no response has been received from messages left for Tri-State Traffic Data.
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DEWEY'S OLDEST HOUSE, THE "Y" HOUSE, REMAINS FOR SALE
The former Dewey Beach YMCA is currently the town's oldest house, says Sarah Dougherty, the appointed historian for the Town of Dewey Beach. The structure was built in 1898 and served as a YMCA for many years. Now it is a private residence currently listed for sale since November 6, 2015 priced at $969,500.
"I fear someone might buy it for the location and tear down this piece of history to build new," says Dougherty, whose mother was the late Barbara Quillen Dougherty, the town's original historian. This is a photo of the YMCA dated July 4, 1904 from her mother's collection.
This house at 9 McKinley Street is "an amazing survivor," she points out. "It was there long before the streets were laid out so that's why it seems an odd location." The property is actually in the center of the block, surrounded completely by other properties with no driveway and only indirect pedestrian access via an easement along 11 McKinley Street which is on the far left in the below photo.
There is much more Dewey Beach history that has not been told, Dougherty observes. More research is needed first, she says. Her mother's book, Dewey Beach History & Tales, is a must-have for people interested in learning more about Dewey Beach history.
Photo courtesy Sarah Dougherty
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THE EL GALEON TALL SHIP HAS EXTENDED ITS O.C. STAY
The Spanish tall ship, the El Galeon, has extended its stay in Ocean City. The ship, which was scheduled to depart today, will stay in the Isle of Wight Bay until Wednesday, August 30, because of predicted tidal conditions.
The 170-foot, 495-ton wooden replica will be on display through Tuesday, with a pending departure between 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. this coming Wednesday, weather depending. See the website for info. Also, the Nao Victoria Foundation is accepting applications for trainees for the vessel's journey from Ocean City to Spain, and you too can learn what it was like sailing the seas in a tall ship!
Photo courtesy Bob Gilbert
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REHOBOTH SOLAR ECLIPSE WATCHERS
Eclipse watchers were all over the beach last Monday. Here is the Beem family from McLean, Virginia checking out the eclipse at 2:49 p.m.
More local eclipse photos are on the Delaware Beaches website.
Photo courtesy Sean Kelley Photography
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SKY FROM GORDON'S POND FRIDAY NIGHT
Photo courtesy David Koster, Portraits In The Sand
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POLICE IMPERSONATOR TRIES TO GET FREE COFFEE FROM WAWA, GETS ARRESTED--- Delaware State Police arrested Benjamin Fazio, 54, of Georgetown, who, police say, was loitering at the Wawa on Wolfe Neck Road outside Rehoboth. An employee had reported that Fazio walked out with a cup of coffee around 12:30 a.m. last Wednesday and told the clerk to "put this one on Troop 7's tab." MCpl. Jeffrey R. Hale, state police spokesman, says Fazio had "advised employees of the Wawa that he was employed by the Delaware State Police." He was later taken into custody and charged by police with loitering and criminal impersonation, MCpl. Hale added. Fazio has since been arraigned and released on $300 unsecured bail.
WOMAN WHO WAS PULLED FROM SURF AT GORDON'S POND HAS DIED--- Michael Globetti, DNREC spokesman, confirms that the woman who was rescued from the surf at the Cape Henlopen State Park on Sunday, August 13, was later pronounced dead. He says the Delaware Medical Examiner's Office notified DNREC Natural Resources Police Park Rangers that the manner of death was natural causes.
REHOBOTH BEACH CITES HOMEOWNER WITH ROCKY YARD--- This past Wednesday, the City of Rehoboth Beach cited Surrey Bailey for failure to secure a business license. She was featured in this July 27 Cape Gazette article. She and her sister had been at odds with the city after they installed permeable hardscape in their front lawn on Stockley Street earlier this year.
SHOWER CURTAIN SLASHER RETURNS TO CAPE HENLOPEN STATE PARK BATHHOUSE--- Somebody is once again slashing shower curtains inside the Cape Henlopen State Park bathhouse. This was a problem last year as well. The latest report was from around 3 p.m. this past Saturday. No suspect info.
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