Sussex County Council ...
Council Wrestles With
Police Issue Again
By ERIC MAGILL
SC Online Publisher
GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County Council again visited the policing problem facing county residents at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2002.
Councilman Vance Phillips raised the issue when he asked County Administrator Robert L. Stickels and the council to consider the donation of land at Americana Bayside from Freeman Communities LLC for a state police sub-station in the Fenwick Island area.
Phillips said he contacted Freeman Communities about the proposal and received a letter from Freeman official Ken Green stating that the offer, made as Freeman sought rezoing for its development, still stands.
Phillips said he also spoke to Delaware Department of Public Safety Secretary James L. Ford recently about a sub-station for the Fenwick area.
The issue has been on and off the burner for the past two years, particularly since Sheriff Robert Reed took office in 2000 and has challenged the county and the state to allow his department to exercise what he believes is his office's Constitutional obligation to provide police services for county residents.
Both the state and county have been cool to the idea, with the state preventing the Sheriff's Department from putting emergency lights on its vehicles and the county refusing to fund an expanded department.
Stickels said the county simply can't afford to start a police agency despite its continued budget surpluses and said he had also spoken to Sec. Ford about expanding the current joint venture in which the county pays for half of the cost of 20 state troopers in the county.
Council members on Tuesday continued to favor the idea of expanding the current joint venture.
State Sen. George Bunting Jr., however, has told council that he doesn't believe the General Assembly will fund the officers necessary to provide adequate coverage in the county. Last year, he proposed that the county pay for an additional 20 state troopers in Sussex County to counter the drug problem in rural areas.
"I think we should continue with our arrangement with the state police," said Councilman George Cole. "You get a bigger bang for your buck than any other method I've seen. We're willing to do this partnership and continue it. I think Mrs. (Rep. Shirley) Price and Mr. Bunting should be leading the charge."
Capt. Randy Hughes, the Commander of state police Troop 5 in Bridgeville, told council that Major MacLeish, the Southern Troop Commander of the state police, has established a feasability study for additional troops in Sussex County as a priority.
Hughes said the study entails an analysis of the staff needed to provide adequate protection, the cost, and the need for the additional staff. He added that while Freeman's offer of land is generous, part of the study would be to determine if that location on Route 54 is the best location for a sub-station.
"After Sept. 11 our priorities changed, but this is back on the front burner now," said Hughes. "Our timeline is very short."
Council President Finley B. Jones, in answer to a question from Cole about whether a lack of troopers in the county is reality or merely a perception, said, "There definitely is a shortfall of troopers in the county."
Councilman Dale Dukes said the General Assembly needs to consider the county's policing needs in its current budget. "They seem to be able to find money for other things," Dukes said.
Tourism Not Down Much ...
Rob Marshall of the Southern Delaware Tourism Commission told council that the organization's "So Close to Home" campaign has resulted in only a 2 percent downturn in tourism in Sussex County at a time when many other areas, including Kent and New Castle counties, have experienced double-digit decreases.
Marshall said the aggressive campaign for the winter and spring seasons has included ads and mailings in the Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Lancaster, Pa. areas.
"We consider this to be a great success considering the other two counties in the state are way off," said Marshall, referring to the drop in tourism since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Youth Work Camps ...
Council heard a report from the First State Community Action Agency on its annual Youth Work Camp, slated for June 29-July 5 this year.
The camp will bring 387 youths, mostly from the Midwest, to the area to fix up homes in the county.
Working in conjunction with Youth Camps Inc. of Loveland, Colo., the camp will house the workers and adult supervisors at Cape Henlopen High School.
The youths will work on projects in the Coverdale Crossroads, Greentop, Polly Branch and West Rehoboth communities.
Council was told that the 64 projects to be completed include porch construction and ramp construction for elderly citizens in those communities.
Councilman Vance Phillips praised the commitment of the kids in the program.
"To me, one of the most impressive things is the dedication the kids have to have," he said. "They have to pay $300 to $345 out of their own pocket for this camp."
In Other Business ...
- Council will not meet on Tuesday, March 4, due to the National Association of Counties' leadership conference in Washington, D.C. next week. The next council meeting will be Tuesday, March 11, at 10 a.m.
- Council approved the annual audit report presented by Jefferson, Uriane, Doane & Sterner. The audit concluded that the county finished $2,516,000 in the black in Fiscal Year 2002.
- Council approved a proclamation recognizing Friday, April 30, 2002, as Truitt Jefferson Day in Sussex County. Jefferson will retire as president of the firm on April 30 after more than 40 years as an accountant in the state. A Sussex County native, Jefferson has served as the county's auditor since 1970. Jefferson headed to Wilmington for his first job in 1961 out of Goldey-Beacom College. He became a CPA in 1967 and moved back to Sussex in 1970. Jefferson is a member of the Fraternal Order of Redman, a past member of the Delaware Society of Certified Public Accountants, and past president of the Milton Lions Club. He was inducted into Goldey-Beacom's Alumni Gallery in 2000. County Administrator Robert L. Stickels also credited Jefferson for his efforts in helping the county establish a modern accounting system.
- Council approved two motions authorizing Stickels to approve binding commitments from the state of Delaware for loans and grants totalling nearly $18 million for the Ellendale Sanitary Sewer District project and upgrades to the South Coastal Regional Wastewater Facility. Council approved a no-interest, 40-year loan for $1 million for the construction of the Ellendale district, as well as a $3.814 million grant to cover the increased cost of the project. It also approved a maximum loan of $13 million over 20 years at 2.1 percent interest for upgrades to the South Coastal facility. The upgrades will increase South Coastal's capacity from 6 million gallons to 9 million gallons per day.
- Council approved a motion to allow the engineering department to post notices for an extension of the Dagsboro-Frankford Sanitary Sewer District to include a 1.1-acre lot with a single-family home owned by George Oliver. The parcel is on the north side of Honolulu Road adjacent to the Town of Frankford. Assistant County Engineer Russell Archut called the situation an "emergency" due to serious septic system problems on the property that is possibly discharging sewerage under the home. "It's either hook up to sewer or build an elaborate septic system," said Archut. "We're trying to expedite this so we can get to the point where he can make the hookup." Archut said other repairs are being made to the house. He said a lateral already runs in front of the property. A hearing on the proposed annexation has been scheduled for March 26.
- County Administrator Robert L. Stickels said the Delaware Department of Transporation's Long-Range Transportation Workshop will be held Monday, March 4, from 3:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. in DelDOT's South District conference room on U.S. 113. A formal presentation will be made from 4-6 p.m.
- Stickels also told council that DelDOT has informed him that it will be abandoning a portion of Road 446 between Route 9 and Road 431 by the experimental station.
- Council declared the month of March 2002 as International Women's History Month in the county. In conjunction with Women's History Month in March 2002, the proclamation recognizes the accomplishments of women in the county and obstacles they have overcome.
- Council heard the following proposed ordinances:
- An application from Ricky L. Clogg for a conditional use in an AR-1 District for an automtoive, boat and small engine repair service on a 12,694 square foot lot in Baltimore Hundred.
- An application from the Lutheran Church of Our Savior for a conditional use in a C-1 District for a public pre-school on 3 acres in the Lewes-Rehoboth Hundred.
- An application from Boca East LLC to change 250.11 acres in an AR-1 District in the Indian River Hundred to an MR-RPC.
- An application from Caroline Development Inc. to change 139.367 acres in the Baltimore Hundred to an MR-RPC.
- Council approved three construction administration and construction inspection agreements for wastewater facilities in three developments in Sussex County:
- Wedgefield RPC -- 90 single-family lots on Road 84 near Ocean View and across from the Bear Trap RPC in the Ocean View expansion of the Bethany Beach Sanitary Sewer District.Gulfstream Development Corp. will pay $11,319 in construction administration and inspection fees.
- Villages of Old Landing -- 21 single-family lots in Section 2, Phase 4, on Old Landing Road past Breezewood. Ddeveloped by Atlantic Land Co. LLC, which will pay $3,319.50 in administration and inspection fees.
- Cedar Valley -- 50 single-family lots. Paying $15,509.70 in administration and inspection fees.
- Council approved the following grant requests:
- Auxiliary of Stockley Center -- $500 for the 14th annual Stockley Stride
- Delaware Scorpions -- $250 for expenses
- Lower Sussex Little League -- $100 for maintaining and upgrading facilities
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