Sussex County Delaware
Bankrupt Ames Shutting
Its Stores for Good
 
Sussex Beat, August 14, 2002

NOTE: Sussex Beat is a log of news briefs and commentary by Kerin Magill, editor of Sussex County Online, with contributions from Sussex County Online users.

CURRENT SUSSEX BEAT:

Kerin Magill, Sussex County Online

By KERIN MAGILL
SC Online
Editor

Ames Closing All Stores ...

The bankrupt Ames Department Stores chain will be closing the doors of all of its stores, including stores in Millsboro, Rehoboth Beach and Seaford, for good within the next 10 weeks.

The decision came just one day after Ames' creditors' committee asked a bankruptcy court judge for permission to liquidate the chain's inventory.

The closing is particularly troubling for the Town of Millsboro, which, combined with the closing of Acme Markets in July, will have lost two of the oldest stores in town in a period of three months.

The old Acme and the Ames stores are located across Route 113 from each other in separate shopping centers.

"It would be a blow to the town right now," said Millsboro Mayor Joseph Brady.

Brady said he had only found out about the closing late Wednesday afternoon and didn't know any other details than what had been posted on the Ames web site.

He did have some good business news for Millsboro residents, though, as he said a new ACE Hardware store would be opening in the long-vacant retail space at the other end of the Ames shopping center soon.

That space has been vacant for 15 years, Brady said, following the closing of A&P and SuperFresh stores there.

Managers at the Millsboro and Rehoboth Beach stores declined comment on the closings and referred Sussex County Online to the company's web site.

Besides four stores in Delaware that employ 196 people, the chain will also be closing all of its other 323 stores.

The company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Aug. 20, 2001, laid off 420 employees at its headquarters on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2002. It asked for an emergency

In a statement on the company's web site, Ames chairman and CEO Joseph R. Ettore said, "This was a wrenching decision, but the right course to take. Continued softness in sales, combined with tightening terms and slower shipments from our suppliers, have reduced our funds availability below critical levels. To ensure the greatest possible value for our various stakeholders -- including our associates -- Ames management has resolved to pursue an orderly liquidation of the company now, rather than continue along a path that would further diminish our resources and lead Ames to default on its lending agreements."

Ames said it will hire a liquidator to conduct going out of business sales at all of its stores. It expects the sales to begin Aug. 18 and last approximately 10 weeks before stores are closed.

Ames, battered by competition against Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target, has been battling financial difficulty for some time despite purchasing the 155-store Hills chain in late 1998 and some of the closed Caldor stores in 1999.

The company's 2001 bankruptcy filing was its second in an 11-year period. In its last fiscal year filing on Feb. 2, the chain reported losses of $813 million.

Founded in 1958, the company, based in Rocky Hill, Conn., employed 21,500 people and had annual sales of $2.7 billion. The company operates in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions of the country.

Bethany Beach Candidates Night Sept. 13

Bethany Beach residents will have a chance to listen to the views of candidates for Bethany Beach Town Council at a forum scheduled for Friday, Sept. 13, 2002, in the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company hall on Hollywood Street.

The Candidate's Night is sponsored by the Bethany Beach Landowners' Association. Candidates for town council this year are: Lois Lipsett, William White, Joseph McHugh, Wayne Fuller, Robert Parsons, Harold Steele and J. Robert Degen.

All candidates are scheduled to attend the forum except Fuller, who will be out of town. Fuller will send a representative to read a statement for him, according to BBLA president Paul Denault.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. Residents will have a chance to meet the candidates informally before the formal portion of the program begins at 7:30 p.m., Denault said.

Issues likely to be brought up during the forum include the town's proposed Garfield Parkway beautification project, overcrowding and flooding and drainage problems, the town's pilot shuttle program and the problem of feral cats.

The town council election will be held on Saturday, Sept. 14 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Bethany Beach town meeting room, at the intersection of Route 1 and Garfield Parkway.

Thursday, Aug. 15 is the last day for property owners whose names are not on the town's property tax list to register to vote in this year's election. This year, for the first time, anyone already on the town's tax list is automatically registered to vote.

Voters can register in person at town hall with proper identification, such as a driver's license or other government-issued ID, as well as proof of residency (driver's license, signed lease, copy of recorded deed, etc.). Mail or e-mail registration would also be accepted if received by Aug. 15.

Absentee ballots may be requested by mail or e-mail no later than five days before the election or in person no later than 3 p.m. on the day before the election. Absentee ballots must be returned by 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13. A photocopy of proper identification must be sent with the ballot in order for it to be considered valid.

State Parks Cut Lifeguard Hours

With lifeguards up and down the coast beginning to leave for colleges and sports camps, Delaware State Parks have announced cutbacks in the hours the state park beaches will be guarded for the remainder of the summer.

Beginning Friday, Aug. 16, Fenwick Island State Park beach between the town of Fenwick Island and the Maryland state line will be unguarded for the rest of the summer.

Other state park beaches -- Cape Henlopen and Gordon's Pond beaches, Towers Road ocean side and southeast day area, and the Fenwick Island bathouse beach -- will remain guarded for now, but may face cutbacks as the summer winds to a close.

"We encourage people to swim only in the lifeguarded areas of our parks to ensure their safety," said Greg Wilson, chief of enforcement for the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation.

Hours of operation for the Killens Pond State Park's water park will be cut back the week of Aug. 26 due to the lifeguard shortage. The water park will be open Monday, Aug. 26 and Wednesday, Aug. 28 from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., and on Tuesday, Aug. 27, Thursday, Aug. 29 and Friday, Aug. 30 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Normal weekend hours -- 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. -- will be in effect for the Labor Day holiday weekend

Fishing Tournament Registration Begins

Anglers, get your tackle boxes ready -- it's time to register for the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Fall Surf- Fishing Tournament. The tournament is set for Saturday, Oct. 12 and Sunday, Oct. 13.

Registration forms are available at the Chamber office, north of Fenwick Island on Route 1, and at area bait and tackle shops.

Anglers can also call the Chamber at 800-962-SURF to request a form or download one at www.thequietresorts.com.

More than $5,000 in guaranteed cash and prizes will be awarded. Anglers will also vie for $25,000 for catching a bluefish that breaks the Delaware state record. Children 14 and under and families are encouraged to participate and will be eligible for separate prizes. An awards ceremony will be held after the fishing on Sunday at the Chamber office.

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