Archive for February, 2011

To back in, or not to back in

February 22, 2011

Most cars in this line backed into spots in a Georgetown parking lot.

There are two distinct types of people – drivers who pull in and park and those who back in to park. Why is that? There seems to be no rhyme or reason why certain drivers take the time to back in while others pull in.

Are those who back in so driven to get away quickly? Or do they feel safer looking forward out of a parking spot?

Most people pull in, and in many cases drivers are prohibited by law from backing into a parking space. That’s the case in Rehoboth Beach where it’s head-in parking only.

It would be interesting to do a psychological study of those who use public parking lots in Georgetown where there are no restrictions on parking. At least one third of drivers using the lots back into parking spots if they have a chance.

Believe it or not, studies have been done on the topic of how people park. Studies show that people who back in tend to leave in a hurry and drive faster to leave their parking spots creating unsafe situations. Drivers that back out, even those in small cars who have trouble seeing around pick-ups and SUVs, are safer drivers.

I pull into parking spots because I’m not the greatest driver when it comes to backing up.

Back in or pull in? That is the question.


In this economy, every dollar helps

February 7, 2011

Every dollar in the Sussex County till helps a little, and $177,800 helps a lot.

The Sussex County engineering department was able to negotiate that savings as part of the Inland Bays Regional Wastewater Facility expansion project. The savings reduces the capital cost of the project, funded by the sewer district, and customers will save a little on their sewer bill.

The action is just one example of the penny-pinching attitude within Sussex County government. In these tough economic times, when government workers are being laid off right and left ­– including police and firefighters – it’s encouraging to note that the same has not happened in Sussex County.

Unfortunately, it’s easier to make cuts in staff than it is in programs.

Through attrition, early retirements and repositioning staff, the county has been able to cut the work force without seriously affecting  those trying to make ends meet by keeping their jobs.

When you consider that most of the county’s $46 million operating budget –­ 62 percent in fiscal 2011 – is spent on employees and benefits, it’s amazing Sussex County has been able to hold the line.

Employees have had to do with a little less, and some are paying more for healthcare insurance. When you consider the alternative, a little sacrifice is worth it.

The passing of two great teachers

February 4, 2011

I was sorry to read of the passing of Tina Fallon. She was one of the most energetic ladies I have ever known. Serving as a state representative from 1978 to 2006, age didn’t seem to be a deterrent to her schedule. She got up early and got home late most days as she went about the business of representing her constituents. Most of that business involved getting out and meeting and talking with people.

Tina Fallon

She was a people person who was a great listener. She was so well liked no one dared run against her.

But she had another life prior to being elected to the General Assembly. As a middle school science teacher in the Seaford School District, she left her mark on hundreds of students. She was a hands-on teacher who was ahead of her time.

It wasn’t unusual that four people at a recent Sussex County Council meeting noted they had her as a teacher: Lawrence Lank, director of planning and zoning; councilmen George Cole and Mike Vincent; and yours truly.

I had the hardest time calling Mrs. Fallon “Tina” as I grew up and became an adult in her adopted hometown of Seaford.

We had many long talks over the years because we had a similar interest in local politics. I not only wrote about her as a reporter and editor at The Leader newspaper in Seaford; in later years I worked with her directly as a member of the Seaford City Council.

I really never considered Tina a politician, even though she served in elected office for an amazing 28 years. She was more of a friend of the people who happened to go to Dover on occasion.

There will be a memorial service for her in Seaford sometime this spring.

Another one of my favorite teachers, Jim Young, passed away recently. I got to know Jim very well in my adult life as a fellow member of the Seaford Kiwanis Club. I valued his opinions on matters above most others.

In sixth grade, he introduced us to the world of model rocketry, and we had a blast – literally. Beyond the fancy Estes model rockets, we constructed our own rockets out of cardboard paper towel and toilet paper tubes.

I learned more about science that year, even though he was only my homeroom teacher, than I did in science class.

Mike Vincent says his work is done

February 2, 2011

You really never know what will happen during a Sussex County Council meeting. If nothing else, it’s a great place for quotes.

During a discussion over a conditional-use application for Lawson’s Produce in Harbeson Tuesday, Feb. 1, something unusual occurred.

Council members Joan Deaver, Sam Wilson and Vance Phillips agreed to change three conditions recommended by the county’s planning and zoning commission. It’s rare that Wilson and Phillips see eye-to-eye with Deaver on anything. The three voted for the changes and for the conditional use to pave the way for a mulching operation.

The action prompted Council President Mike Vincent to comment on the historical event.

“I’ve only been president for one month, and I already have Joan, Sam and Vance on the same page. My work is done,” he said.

The comment drew smiles from the council and another comment from Phillips who said the quote would likely end up in this blog. He was right.

The Oracle of Sussex County

February 2, 2011

During the Tuesday, Feb. 1 Sussex County Council meeting, a familiar voice was heard. Joe Conaway, a former county administrator who is known for speaking his mind, got involved in a debate with Councilman George Cole over the merits of allowing time extensions to developers.

During the discussion, Conaway came up with this piece of advice: “Sometimes, even if you do it wrong, you have to do something.”

Based on his comments and observations, Cole called Conaway the Oracle of Sussex County.

It’s a title the jovial Conaway is probably proud of.