Archive for June, 2010

Glad to live in Sussex

June 24, 2010

You really have to be there to appreciate it. Some of the strangest conversations and comments emanate from the Sussex County Council chambers.

Take for example comments from the June 15 meeting.

During a debate about a time extension for a project, Councilman George Cole became perturbed with President Vance Phillips.  Cole wanted council to vote then and there against granting another time extension, but Phillips pushed for a deferral because one member of council was on vacation.

Cole went along with it and said, “I don’t want to see standards lowered any more under your reign of terror.”

Phillips just smiled.

Then there was talk about the camel. Councilman Sam Wilson said the state is like a camel sticking its nose in the tent, which is the start of the camel wanting to come inside the tent. The tent, of course, represents Sussex County.

Cole agreed, but went a tad further during a discussion of pending legislation that would require the county to submit all zoning ordinances to the state Office of Planning Coordination. He said the camel’s ears, neck and nose are already in the tent as they look at ways to take over land-use decisions from the county.

During the June 22 budget public hearing, Wilson took exception when a taxpayer questioned why her annual sewer bill was more than $500 when others were paying less. She was also confused about why she paid a front-foot assessment fee on land she doesn’t own.

It gave Wilson an excuse to vent because it appeared his comments had been bottled up inside him for quite awhile.

Wilson disagreed that her sewer fee was an exorbitant amount. He said putting in your own system and maintaining it would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

“I hear you, but you are almost getting a free ride,” Wilson said, adding the manufactured homeowner pays about $40 in annual property taxes (with school taxes of about $500).

Wilson also had words for those who complain about the county. “People come here, and they want more services and more government. I tell them to go back home, and then they’ll come back and be glad to live in Sussex County,” he said.

A garden of delights

June 18, 2010

Longwood Gardens, located just over the Delaware line in Kennett Square, Pa., is a place like no other. It contains 1,050 acres of gardens, fountains, trails, woods, a meadow and much more. Originally a hunting ground of the Lenape Indians, the property was purchased in 1700 by the Peirce family who farmed the land and established an arboretum in 1798. In an effort to save the magnificent trees on the property, Pierre S. Du Pont, great-grandson of the founder of the Du Pont Co., purchased the farm in 1906. For the next three decades he began the transformation of the property into present-day Longwood Gardens. In 1946, he turned the property over to a foundation he created. As one of the first public parks in the nation, Longwood has one of the best collections of trees to be found anywhere in the county.

Today, Longwood features a complete schedule of entertainment, fountain and fireworks shows and research opportunities for students. For more information go to longwoodgardens.org.

Historic Woodland Ferry back in action

June 9, 2010

The Tina Fallon crosses the Nanticoke River.

The Woodland Ferry has a storied past, and a history of not operating – at least over the past decade. Even a new six-car ferry, named after long-time, retired State Rep. Tina Fallon of Seaford, has been plagued by problems over the past two years. But it’s working today.

A ferry has been crossing the Nanticoke River in Woodland, about five miles from Seaford, since the 1740s. Called Cannon’s Ferry, it remained in the Cannon family for more than 100 years. The murder of Jacob Cannon Jr. at the ferry wharf was the beginning of the end of the family’s connection to the ferry.

In 1883, the state took over the ferry operation and the first engine was added in 1930. Prior to that, strong men had to pull the ferry across using ropes. It’s always served as an important link between the Seaford and Laurel areas.

The ferry was moved to the new state highway department (now DelDOT) in 1935. The most famous vessel to cross the Nanticoke, the Virginia C., was in operation from 1961 to 2008 when the Tina Fallon replaced it. There is no charge to use the ferry and the crossing takes less than five minutes.

A fantasyland of sights, sounds and smells

June 7, 2010

On Rehoboth Beach.

They are here. Hundreds of thousands descended upon the coast like a swarm of mad African bees over the Memorial Day weekend. Life for those who live in the Cape Region has changed ­– at least on the weekends (including Friday) and August when everyone takes vacation.

I’m totally in support of the businesses that thrive off vacationers. Even so, it’s beyond my comprehension why someone would pay a lot of money to visit the area and sit on a beach so crowded with people you can’t move.

Yet, thousands upon thousands do it week in and week out throughout the summer. Houses and condos that seem to be vacant most of the year have cars and SUVs parked in front of them.

They come from Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. Those with vacation homes or living close enough to make the drive in under three or four hours come most weekends.

They sit out and bake in the hot sun even though we are told that overexposure to the sun is bad for us.

They drive in unbearable traffic from urban areas in a mad dash to get out of the city only to encounter more traffic jams on beach routes. They stay to the last minute and rush back home in more traffic, and then they do it again the next weekend.

Yet, through it all, this area is a great place to live and visit. There is nothing like a stroll on the Boardwalk at night. The sights, sounds and smells create a fantasyland of delights that help us escape from the daily grind. A mixture of sand and sea, the smell of pizza and caramel corn, the cry of the gulls and screams from kids on rides stimulate the senses. It’s no wonder visitors keep coming back.

CAN’T TOP THIS ONE – You really have to love beach season. It got off to a big bang with a group of topless transgender men who caused a stir off Queen Street (you can’t make this stuff up) in Rehoboth Beach over Memorial Day weekend when they refused to wear their tops, exposing their implanted female breasts.

The story attracted national attention and was posted on more than 300 news sites.

I would have paid money to listen to the conversation between lifeguards, police and the men with breasts as they ironed out a compromise to put on tops without anyone getting placed in handcuffs.

With all the cell phone cameras around these days, photos will eventually surface of this encounter.