WEEKEND #14, 2021

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

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Multiple agencies assisted the MERR Institute this past Thursday trying to rescue a young 57-foot male fin whale that stranded itself on a sandbar on the bayside of The Point at the Cape Henlopen State Park. Suzanne Thurman, MERR executive director, was taken to the scene that morning with the assistance of the Delaware Natural Resources Police to get a closer look at the whale and evaluate it for injuries or entanglement.

The whale ultimately beached itself for the final time on the oceanside of The Point Thursday evening. Staff and volunteers from the MERR Institute and the Virginia Aquarium had made plans to provide palliative care, sedation and possibly euthanasia, but those plans turned out to be unnecessary as the whale died around noon on Friday just as the medical supplies and equipment arrived, says Rob Rector, one of the MERR responders.

A necropsy was performed later that day, Rector says, and preliminary findings confirmed that this was indeed a debilitated animal suffering from underlying conditions. Examination of the whale by the necropsy team revealed significant parasitic infections in the liver, lungs and kidneys. The thin body condition and empty stomachs suggest the whale had been impaired and not feeding recently. Vessel trauma consistent with a propeller and skeg interaction was present on the back of the animal, however, the injury was small and showed evidence of healing, suggesting it was unrelated to the cause of stranding, he pointed out.

Fin whales are the second-largest whales on earth, after blue whales. They are listed as endangered throughout their range and are more commonly found in deep waters.

The whale was buried on the beach last Friday evening by DNREC's Shoreline and Waterway Management team.

Photos courtesy Sgt. Brooke Mitchell/DNRP, David Koster/PortraitsInTheSand.com and Rob Rector/MERR Institute.


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But can it continue?

Was it the 5G poles, the pandemic or have the people of Dewey given up and decided it is time to bury the hatchet?

The three candidates "running" for the three open commissioner seats attended this past Saturday's candidate forum hosted by the Dewey Beach Civic League at Hyatt Place. About 25 people were in the audience but none had any questions for the candidates.

Rob Marshall moderated and led the discussion about the town's positive finances, outdoor dining, 5G pole status, pedestrian safety, thoughts on new taxes, adding more police at the current pay level, police station upgrades, Covid, supporting the town manager, parking, controlling beach population, storm water and flooding and the upcoming Coastal Highway median project.

People in Dewey are enjoying the harmony of what would often be a contentious and divisive election season. Will this trend continue? Stay tuned!



The irony, just hours after pedestrian safety was a featured topic of Saturday's candidate forum, a 31-year-old man was seriously injured while crossing Coastal Highway near Rodney Avenue in Dewey Beach. He was struck by the white Toyota Sceana minivan in the southbound lanes around 9:45 p.m.

According to EMS reports he was thrown over the hood and into and over the windshield. He was unconscious for a couple of minutes but regained consciousness as he was being treated by EMS. One report also said he appeared to have been intoxicated.

Sgt. Clifford Dempsey, police spokesman, said the pedestrian has been charged with crossing outside of a crosswalk. He also noted that Dewey Beach police have been actively reaching out to pedestrians this summer to promote safety with the help of Office of Highway Safety funds, supplies and literature.

Photo courtesy Dewey Beach PD


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Kevin Williams, Rehoboth Beach public works director, provided estimates of plastic trash bag usage to Comm. Dick Byrne who chairs the city's Environment Committee. According to those numbers, the city public works crews use around 1000 plastic bags a day during the summer in the city's public trash cans. Assuming a 100-day season, that's about 100,000 bags each summer.

Ocean City -- which does not use plastic bags in its 600 beach trash barrels -- uses a custom-built 4-wheel-drive full-size automated trash truck that allows a single driver to pickup and empty those beach trash cans. But Rehoboth Beach officials are quick to point out that Rehoboth's beach is narrower than Ocean City's and is often more densely populated. "Ocean City has a huge beach," Williams explains, "where they mark out a long strip down the center of the beach where they place their cans and run the truck down at various times to empty the trash cans with the remote arm." Ocean City does, however, use plastic trash bags in its 200 boardwalk cans.

Photo courtesy Jessica Waters, O.C. spokeswoman

In Rehoboth, officials say that it is not feasible or safe to remove trash during peak periods with large machinery. Rehoboth's beach trash cans are positioned along the dune fence and during the day the city's crews pull full bags and place them there for ultimate pick up after the crowds subside.

"Plastic bags are saving us thousands of dollars in labor expenses," says Comm. Jay Lagree, who is the chair of the city's Beach and Boardwalk Committee. "Can you imagine what it would cost to deal with garbage cans like we did before plastic bags," he asks, noting how trash cans without liners frequently smell bad and attract flies especially on hot summer days. Those cans would have to be cleaned frequently.

"Using unlined cans means we have to ensure that we empty the cans before they overflow -- a challenging task without scheduling multiple collection times throughout the day when navigating the beach can be almost impossible," explains Mayor Stan Mills, who previously chaired the Beach and Boardwalk Committee.

Mayor Mills too expressed concern about Rehoboth's narrow beach when compared with Ocean City's. "The larger truck is more of a safety concern unless used only in the early morning before crowds gather," he points out. If Rehoboth had the beach width, he says he would entertain the use of such a truck even though Rehoboth only has about 135 trash cans on the beach.

"Continued use of the beach tractor pulling a trailer for trash collection may be the best program especially in the future if we can expand recycling to the beach," Mayor Mills adds, "that way trash and recyclables might be able to be collected at the same time and placed in different bins on the same trailer. Use of a specialized trash truck would not work for trash and recycling collections unless separate collection schedules are maintained."


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Off-duty lifeguards, family and friends joined the Lewes fireboat crew last Monday to remember the mother of RBP EMT Jacob Klingler who died earlier this month. She too worked in emergency services as an EMT and firefighter.

They scattered her ashes in the ocean while the beach patrol conducted a bell salute for her at the foot of Rehoboth Avenue.

Donations may be made in her memory to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, P.O. Drawer 498, Emmitsburg, Md. 21727 or online by clicking here.


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by Tom Dooley

For the second time this year, the Food Bank of Delaware held a pop-up food distribution event at Sea Air Village, a mixed community of retirees and working families off Coastal Highway near Tanger Outlets Seaside outside of Rehoboth.

Distributed were fresh produce, canned goods, assorted food staples and frozen meats.

Here is Kevin Snead putting food stuffs into a resident's van.

Some residents in this community have no personal transportation so major grocery shopping is a challenge and they are often dependent upon community assistance for their needs. This program is a welcome lifeline.

To donate, advocate or volunteer for the Food Bank of Delaware, please see the FBD website.

Photos courtesy Tom Dooley



The Rehoboth Beach Drag Volleyball grand finale planned for this coming Labor Day Weekend has been postponed until Labor Day Weekend 2022. This year's event was canceled out of an abundance of caution because of the Covid-19 Delta variant as it continues to spread. This is the fourth time the popular tournament has been canceled in its 34-year history. The group still plans to hold its final match next summer, but what then?

Mark Kimble, one of the captains of the Delmarva Divas, is one of the original players from when drag volleyball started in 1988. He says it is certainly a unique sport but requires "a lot of work." The group consists of two teams of nine players each who spend quite a bit of time not only practicing volleyball but also rehearsing for their performance. Kimble has been participating for more than half of his life like so many of the players. He said it is time for them to retire and make 2022 their final match.

The group plans to return in 2022 for that final tournament! "We have put out there that anyone that wants to take it over is more than welcome," Kimble says. "It's a lot of work and I just don't think people want to do it," he pointed out.

Would you like to save drag volleyball? Please contact him via Facebook for info. More historical details are in Rich Barnett's CAMP Rehoboth article from 2008.

Photos courtesy Hoyte Decker and Philip Reich


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He collects tidbits of Rehoboth Beach history like an entomologist collects insects. Photographs, postcards, newspapers.com articles, insurance company and land records and surveys all help him recreate a nearly perfect replica of 1910 Rehoboth Beach.

Meet Paul Lovett, a local historian who spends several hours each day examining and reconstructing the town's history. Part of his story is about the history, he says, and the other part is to characterize that history in the 1910 railroad time frame.

Lovett continues to build this detailed N-scale (1:160) replica of Rehoboth Avenue during that railroad era. When he is finished, it will run from the ocean fishing pier known as Horns Pavilion to the west side of the U.S. Government Canal, where the train's steam engine turned around.

Lovett acts like a general contractor. He creates the specifications for each building, seeks sponsors and hires professional model builders to make the miniatures. About 30 sponsors have participated at $300 to $500 per structure. The models are made from real wood and 3D-printed components. The boardwalk is made board by board. The real boardwalk, he notes, has been completely replaced at least 10 times.

Rehoboth Beach was a railroad town. Train tracks came down the center of Rehoboth Avenue providing passenger service for 50 years from 1878 to 1928. Freight service continued for another 35 years. Rehoboth Avenue was not originally intended for purposes of the railroad, but rather to provide wide vistas to enhance breezes and views. The old downtown area, designed in 1873, was bounded by Christian Street, Lake Avenue and the ocean. That triangular parcel was actually a seaside cranberry farm belonging to Lorenzo Dow Martin. He sold the farm in 1873 to the Methodist-Episcopal Camp Meeting Association. The design of Rehoboth's streets followed the contours of that farm.

Rehoboth was at its peak in 1910, Lovett points out. The town had gas lamps lit by a lamplighter and a new, noisy electric power and ice-making plant (where First Street Station is today) that spewed coal ash over the town. Livestock was free-roaming including horses, cows, chickens, goats and pigs.

Two new model complexes coming in a few weeks to the diorama are under construction by Lovett's Miami-based model builder: Thoroughgood Lumber and Cottage that were on the south side of Rehoboth Avenue, across from today's post office; and Dick's Grocery Store and adjacent gas station that was on the northwest corner of 1st Street and Rehoboth Avenue. The Newark, Delaware model builder is working on the tables that will be the base for the second and third blocks of Rehoboth Avenue. That will include an operating train. Already on the diorama, the ocean block is finished with about 30 buildings.

"I have studied Rehoboth history for two to three hours a day for about five years," Lovett says. "I know the history and am recreating it. My primary purpose is to share it with folks like yourselves," he says.

The diorama will be about 38 feet when it is finally completed. "It needs to find a home in Rehoboth where it will live for generations to come," Lovett says. It will need to find a new home in the not-too-distant future. In a few more months it will be too large for its current location," he said. "In the meantime," he added, "I am so indebted to Main Street for allowing it to be displayed at its offices."

Lovett has presented the diorama to visitors -- which comes with a Rehoboth history lesson -- more than 70 times! "I love to share the stories," he adds. Lovett has written essays about Commodore William H. Shock, a Civil War veteran with a cottage on the boardwalk during the 1890s; Lorenzo Dow Martin, the cranberry farmer who sold his farm that became the core of Rehoboth's business district; and will soon be writing about the "boardwalk titans."

To arrange an appointment to see the diorama, please email Lovett, call him at (302) 893-9391 or visit his hobby's website.


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The Rehoboth Art League opened four exhibitions this past Friday. On display in the Corkran Gallery is the Delaware Watercolor Society Juried Fine Arts exhibition, The Wonders of Watermedia. This group approached RAL to showcase its work. Nicholas Serratore, RAL exhibitions director, says it is a wonderful juried show as the society has a large membership representing all styles of work from abstract to portrait to traditional landscapes. Here is Gail Zinar, a 3rd-place award winner for her work, The Cost of Covid.

In the Ventures Gallery is Mezzanine by Antonio McAfee, the 1st place winner in RAL's 2019 regional photography show. "It's very unusual and very evocative and reminiscent of Roni Horn who is a photographer for people who are familiar with her work," Serratore explains. "He attempts to provide alternate ways to see Black figures, ways that allow the subjects to have multitudes of possibilities and imagine within a still image."

In the Tubbs Gallery is More Beyond by Jan Crooker who has been a long-time RAL member and recent award winner as well. The premise of her show, Serratore says, is that during the pandemic we were unable to get out and observe the world. She was forced to paint from memory from what she had seen from before Covid and rely on photographs.

Reflections by Laura Erickson is on display in the Homestead which Serratore calls a "Very lovely quiet relaxing show." She works with plaster and acrylic mixed together to create beautiful and serene ocean scenes, among others. This exhibition explores the natural and varying relationships among the body, mind and the subconscious and the water and sky, Serratore added.

These shows will be on display through September 26. Please see the RAL website for details.


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A look inside: Delaware Beach Life August 2021 issue



Deer on Oak Avenue by Gil Hofheimer...

Saturday's rainbow over Dewey Beach by David Koster, PortraitsInTheSand.com ...

On beach by Rehoboth Avenue by Jill Abbott...

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MERR REPORT--- Suzanne Thurman from the MERR Institute reports that in addition to the fin whale, MERR investigated two deceased loggerhead sea turtles this past week, both were found on Sunday in Bay Colony on the west side of Indian River Bay. Both appear to have been boat propeller victims, she said.


HOTEL SWIMMING POOL INCIDENTS IN O.C.--- Ocean City EMS crews responded to two hotel swimming pool incidents this past week both of which were on Baltimore Avenue. Just before 4 p.m. last Tuesday, EMS crews were called to the Flamingo Towers for a person reportedly in cardiac arrest in the pool. On Friday, Jessica Waters, O.C. spokeswoman, said that she knew that fire department personnel responded for a call for a swimmer in distress in the pool but she did "not know the status of the patient. At the time of the call it was unknown if it was a drowning or relates to a medical condition/emergency." Around 6:10 p.m. on Friday, EMS responded to the Days Inn for a toddler found in the pool. When they arrived the boy was reported conscious and coughing up water.


DRIVER SUFFERS CRITICAL MEDICAL PROBLEM, RUNS ACROSS COASTAL HWY MEDIAN NEAR LEWES AND CRASHES--- A 52-year-old man driving a Ford Transit appears to have suffered a medical problem while he drove north on Coastal Highway near Wescoats Road around 4:10 p.m. this past Thursday. MCpl. Heather Pepper, police spokeswoman, says the man's van drove across the concrete median and all southbound lanes and onto the southbound shoulder. But his van continued traveling north on the shoulder of the road and sideswiped a 1999 Honda Accord. The van then continued north on the shoulder through the intersection at Wescoats Road and traveled back across the southbound lane and came to rest in the left and center lane of southbound Coastal Highway. That is where rescue personnel found the man in cardiac arrest. Amazingly, they were successfully able to resuscitate him before taking him to the hospital. A couple and two children in the Honda had minor injuries.


BOATER KILLED DURING FISHING TOURNAMENT CRASH--- A man died last Friday after two boats collided about 62 nautical miles east of Ocean City. Petty Officer Breanna Centeno, Coast Guard spokeswoman, said the two boats were participating in a fishing tournament when they collided. Four persons were thrown into the water but were rescued by another boater. One of the four was later pronounced dead after attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. WGMD identified the dead boater as Capt. Chris Ragni, Sr. from Milton. The Coast Guard is leading the investigation.


BOAT CATCHES FIRE, SINKS AT O.C. INLET--- Ocean City firefighters responded to the Inlet around 5:17 a.m. Sunday after a boat burst into flames against the south jetty. All seven passengers on the vessel were rescued by another boater with no injuries reported. Video has been posted on the O.C.F.D. Facebook page.


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