Archive for February, 2010

Don’t bet on council vote

February 22, 2010

The gambling issue refuses to leave the hallowed halls of Sussex County Council.

For the third time someone from the Georgetown area showed up at the Tuesday, Feb. 16  council meeting asking for a resolution against the expansion of legalized gambling in the county.

So far, no council member has been brave enough to make a motion to that effect. Sam Wilson came close during the meeting when he offered kudos to those who spoke.

Wilson hinted he’d like to see council take a similar stand as the Indian River School Board when it issued a resolution against a casino built near any school.

One has to wonder if the council even has the legal precedent to take such a vote, but a vote would be extremely interesting. It’s not a county land-use application in question, but a moral issue.

The guy leading the charge, Eric Bodenweiser, twisted the issue from moral and ethical to one the county has dealt with before when he said county councilmanic grants have gone to support programs dealing with addictions.

In the game we play of predicting council votes, I wouldn’t dare to even take a guess at this one.

On one hand, the jobs created by a new casino in Sussex County would help boost the economy, but on the other hand the social ills created by gambling addiction can’t be discounted either.

No matter which way members voted they would be in a no-win situation, and that’s not a gamble I see county council taking.

EOC passes first real test

February 19, 2010

There were many unsung heroes who performed way above the call of duty during the blizzards of 2010. The list contains farmers, firemen, electric crews, paramedics, police, members of the National Guard, amateur radio operators and DelDOT snowplow drivers.

At the top of the list is a group of people most Sussex residents are not even aware exists – the staff at the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

EOC staff worked around the clock for a week, catching a few hours sleep on cots in their offices. Most were able to sneak away one day to see their families and dig out their own driveways.

Their families were dealing with the same issues many faced during the back-to-back storms ­– loss of power, stuck vehicles and unplowed roads.

EOC, located at the Sussex County airport, can be compared to the center of the universe in an emergency. Equipped with back-up generators, the center can function during the worst conditions. All of the acronym agencies, DelDOT, DNREC, DEMA and EMS, had representatives manning phones sitting around a large table under massive TV screens to track the storm and catch up on the latest news.

Joe Thomas, EOS director, said it’s critical to the success of any emergency operation to have all concerned under one roof.

Calls came in from all over the county throughout the two storms, but the lines lit up, according to County Administrator David Baker, during the weekend of Feb. 6 and 7 from people without electricity and then again Wednesday, Feb. 10, from people on cell phones who were stranded on roads.

Although a critical analysis of the center’s performance will take place once the snow finally melts away, it appears the operation passed with flying colors in its first real test since opening in 2008.

Sussex County EOC.

Crazy weather at the EOC.

Blizzard of 2010: Beauty and the beast

February 8, 2010

Beauty: Along Cave Neck Road near Milton.

Beast: Downed poles near Harbeson.

Sussex sitting on gold mine

February 3, 2010

Has Sussex County gone to the dogs? Let’s hope not, but the county has gone into the dog-licensing business.

Thanks to cost cutting at the state level, the state’s three counties are now charged with dog control. It’s not cheap to keep dogs under control; it will cost Sussex County at least $600,000, and probably a lot more.

The Kent County SPCA won the bid to provide actual dog control to Sussex residents, which is not a change from last year. The only difference this time around is that Sussex taxpayers are footing the entire bill without any state funding.

The county is, however, responsible for the sale of dog licenses. By law, all dogs except working dogs are supposed to be licensed. In reality, the SPCA claims only about 10 percent are. The SPCA also says there are about 48,000 dogs in Sussex County.

I need a license.

With a population of about 189,000, which is about 75,000 families, that means about 40 percent of Sussex homes have a dog. That number corresponds to the number of U.S. households owning dogs published by the Humane Society of the United States.

In my circle of friends and relations that number seems low. About 75 percent of those folks own dogs.

The county’s system is up and running and with a month to go before the deadline less than 800 of the expected 4,800 (10 percent of the total) dogs have been registered. Licenses are $10 or $15 depending if the dog is spayed or neutered.

There is a lot of work to be done to reach that number by March 1.

If the county reaches 10 percent, about $50,000 will be collected. It seems senseless to have a law only 10 percent of people follow. Can you imagine what the roads would be like if only 10 percent of drivers did the speed limit?

County officials need to step it up because they are sitting on a real gold mine. Even licensing half the dogs would bring in $240,000, a real bump in desperately needed revenues. Assigning, or even hiring, one person as the official dog-licensing enforcer would pay for itself.

Are sting operations and neighborhood and park road checks not too far off in the future? Bring on the house-to-house searches to round up those law-breaking Fidos.

To get more information about licenses, phone 855-7380.

Dan Kramer will be back

February 2, 2010

No wonder we are having so much snow. Dan Kramer missed a Sussex County Council meeting.

It’s really not a joking matter because Dan underwent cancer surgery Tuesday, Feb. 2, and will probably miss a few more meetings.

Dan, a gentleman farmer from Greenwood, is not sure when he first started attending council meetings, but he thinks it was around the time Council President Vance Phillips was elected to office. That was 12 years ago.

Since that time, he has not missed a meeting. He has been at meetings when he was ill and should have been at home. He schedules his week around the Tuesday time slot when council meets.

Attending meetings and keeping an eye on council is a source of pride to Dan – his colorful comments have livened up more than one council meeting over the years.

Dan will have a long road to recovery, but in his usual style he said there was no doubt at all he would beat the cancer.