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Here's a look at news and events from around southern Delaware this week.
Greenwood increases police salary to help recruitment
In a bid to boost hiring, the town of Greenwood recently voted to raise starting pay for new police officers. New chief Phillip Thomas says recruitment has been one of his main focuses since starting.
“Right now across the country, we have problems with hiring police officers in any police department,” Thomas told the Town Council at its most recent meeting. The starting salary in Greenwood was around $39,500, and Thomas compared that with other similar sized departments in the state offering more.
The department had posted a job, but “we got no bites,” Thomas said. He got a couple phone calls, “And they wanted to know what we were starting off at. And they said it would be too much of a pay cut.”
“With the inflation that we have going on right now,” he said, “it’s hard for anyone to survive.”
He recommended an increase to $43,000 for new officers, bumping up to $45,000 after they graduate from police academy, and a sign-on bonus paid out over two years. He said the increase could be funded with grants. Council approved the raise, and the department has now listed the job with the new salary information.
Two farmers markets kick off, one postpones
Two farmers markets 9 miles apart kicked off for the season on Saturday, with Greenwood inaugurating a second year for its market and Harrington launching a new one.
The Greenwood market featured local honey (with live bees in attendance), face painting, produce, flowers and baked goods, according to Town Manager Janet Todd. Vendors included Little Wagon Produce, Winstead Farms and C&G Hydroponics. The next market is July 9 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In Harrington, local officials came for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to kick off the new market, which will be every Saturday from 9 to 3. Read more about the new market here.
Meanwhile the planned Seaford farmers market, which was supposed to debut this month, has been postponed until next year because of a lack of vendors, organizers say.
City Councilman Matt MacCoy, who has been helping organize the market, said in a Facebook message that they felt like they were rushing it, and needed more time to kick it off properly. “We wanted to take the time to do it right,” he wrote.
When is the Harrington Dairy Queen coming?
People have been wondering when the planned Dairy Queen is coming to Harrington. City Manager Norman Barlow said they are curious too, but don’t know the status of the project aside from the fact that Dairy Queen has not yet applied for a demolition permit to knock down the old car wash building where it will be located.
“As of right now, they are targeting December for the Harrington opening,” a Dairy Queen public relations representative said via email.
Mayor Duane E. Bivans, for one, is ready to see the new site up and running, mentioning in his annual report that he hopes it will be in town by this time next year.
“I’m tired of driving to Milford to get ice cream; I’m tired of driving to Georgetown to get ice cream,” he said good humoredly.
Laurel men convicted in Jan. 6 attack
A father and son from Laurel have been found guilty on felony and misdemeanor charges for their actions during the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced in a news release Wednesday.
Kevin Seefried, 53, who became infamous as the Confederate-flag waving man captured in numerous photos inside the Capitol, and his son Hunter Seefried, 24, were found guilty of a felony offense of obstruction of an official proceeding and four misdemeanor offenses including entering restricted grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
Hunter Seefried, prosecutors said, helped clear glass out of a broken window and the Seefrieds were among the first people to enter the Capitol building. They were also among a group that chased a Capitol Police officer, prosecutors said.
They were arrested in January. They face a maximum of 20 years in prison on the felony charge and three years on the misdemeanor charges, as well as the possibility of financial penalties.
Anonymous letter criticizes Bridgeville's Hometown Heroes banners
Bridgeville recently launched new Hometown Heroes banners featuring town residents who have served in the military. It’s a project spearheaded by library Director Karen Johnson, who said now that the new banners are up, she has a dozen new requests for banners and expects more to come.
The town did get an anonymous letter criticizing the placement of the banners with white service members in one part of town and black service members in another.
The banner placement actually appears to be an inadvertent result of the makeup of neighborhoods in town. Organizers explained that banners are sponsored by families, who were consulted about the location and most chose to have the people they honored near their homes. The end result was the banners as they are distributed now.
“When we received (the letter), it was heartbreaking,” Town Manager Bethany DeBussy said. Because they couldn’t respond to the anonymous letter, they decided to respond publicly at Monday’s town meeting.
“All I want to do is honor our veterans and our veterans’ families,” Johnson said, calling the letter heartbreaking and distressing and saying no disrespect was meant with the placement. She said she immediately reached out to families involved. “The families that I communicated with are very happy, and they want their family’s members to be near them,” she said, and they have not heard anything negative from the families of the veterans. She asked that if any other issues come up, people call her directly.
DeBussy said in a followup email that in response to the concern raised over the banners, they had to decide whether to switch to random placement and not allow families to choose the location, risking upsetting those who sponsored the veterans. Instead, they took the course of leaving the banners where they are and then publicly engaging with people about it.
Commissioner Marlene Saunders, who represents North Bridgeville, a historically black neighborhood, said she initially was not aware of the letter but she also had been struck by the placement of the banners. She said she understood the reason, “but I think we are in a period now where we want to be sensitive, and reflect how we want things to be.” Given the history of segregation, and the chance people could get a misperception while traveling through town, she suggested giving thought to placing banners differently in the future. Johnson said that was a valid point.
With regard to the letter, “I respect the person’s right to express their views,” Commission President Tom Carey said. “I think this is a situation where the letter writer should have sought to get an explanation before writing a letter and making the allegations that were made in it. The families have a right to have those banners hung where they want … a simple phone call could have corrected this.”
As noted, Johnson hopes to expand the banner program in the future. Find a list of the banners with more information here. DeBussy is also looking into creating an interactive map to go with the page, she wrote.
Bridgeville, Harrington set financial course for the year
Bridgeville approved its budget for the next fiscal year on Monday, and like other local governments, the town had to consider the effects of inflation with regard to issues like construction costs.
“We tried to stay fairly conservative with this budget, not knowing how the economy’s … going to go, and then factoring in cushions for inflation,” DeBussy said. The operating budget is for about $2.28 million total, with anticipated revenues of around $2.31 million. The largest expenditure is for the police department, at a little over $1 million, with anticipated revenue of $138,000.
It’s not much of an increase over last year’s operating budget of $2.06 million. And the year before that, the operating budget was somewhat higher at $2.76 million.
Harrington also recently approved its operating budget, at a little under $6.1 million. The police department is also one of its top expenses, at $1.35 million (the department is budgeted to bring in about $536,000 in revenue though.)
A number of city employees will be getting raises this year. Councilman Darrin Simpson, who sits on the budget committee, said employees had not gotten much in the way of raises recently, but with an increasing tax base – and the need to pay more because of the state’s minimum wage increase – “We’ve finally been able to kind of attack that a little bit.” He praised Finance Director Amanda Marlow and Town Manager Norman Barlow for their work on determining those raises.
“We’ve been able to do this and not have a tax increase on the residents,” Simpson said. (There was a slight property tax increase for businesses.)
Crashes lead to charges
Woman charged after Milton pedestrian seriously injured
A crash near the Milton fire station has resulted in charges for a Milton woman. Town police said in a news release that Katie Hynson, 36, was driving her car “at an unreasonable speed” on Front Street, ran a stop sign at Chestnut, and then hit a 65-year-old Lincoln woman in the crosswalk. Social media posts about the crash indicated the Milton farmers market was going on nearby at the time.
Police said the woman was flown to Christiana Hospital with serious injuries to her leg and abdominal area.
Hynson faces charges including DUI (third offense), first degree vehicular assault, reckless driving, inattentive driving, possession of drug paraphernalia and failure to stop at a stop sign. She was held at Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution in New Castle County pending a preliminary hearing.
Man arrested on manslaughter charges after children's death in crash
Police have made an arrest in a January crash in Seaford that killed two children.
State police said Arthur Perdue, 53, of Seaford, faces two counts of felony manslaughter and charges of vehicular assault, driving under the influence (third offense) and more related to the crash on Atlanta Road at Brighton Drive on the west side of Seaford.
Perdue’s car crossed a double yellow line on Atlanta Road and smashed head on into a small SUV driven by a 36-year-old Seaford woman, police said.
Hope Glasgow, 14, and her brother Nathan Glasgow, 6, were both pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of their vehicle was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Perdue was flown to the hospital in serious condition, police said.
Perdue was arrested June 13 by state troopers at the Delaware City Division of Motor Vehicles, police said, and held in Howard R. Young Correctional Institution on $65,000 cash bond.
Man hit with DUI charge after driving into police vehicle
A Lewes man faces DUI charges after crashing into a Milford police vehicle in a construction zone Tuesday night, Milford police said.
A Milford officer was helping with traffic at a road construction site at North Rehoboth Boulevard and Northeast Front Street when she saw an SUV plow into the construction site and collide with the police vehicle, which had its lights activated, police said.
The driver, Evan J. Fitzgerald, 22, of Lewes, had a leg injury looked at by Frederica Fire Company at the scene but declined to be taken to the hospital. He was arrested and faces charges including driving under the influence, operating a vehicle in violation of restrictions, and failure to obey a traffic control device.
Vehicles pulling heavy things
For those who like to see souped up engines pushed to their limit, the First State Truck and Tractor Pull is bringing its clouds of black smoke Saturday, June 25 at Delaware International Speedway in Delmar. The event features tractors, trucks and semis. Gates open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, $10 for children ages 9-12 and $5 for ages 5-8. Kids 4 and under get in free. Visit delawareracing.com for more information.
Woodbridge offers summer meals for kids
School is out for the summer, but Woodbridge School District families can still get help with meals. The district announced its Summer Feeding Program runs from June 27 to Aug. 4, Mondays through Thursdays. The meals are available to anyone 18 and younger. Locations include Woodbridge ECEC in Greenwood, Wawa in Bridgeville, Bridgeville Public Library, Just a Hand Up nonprofit in Coverdale, Phillis Wheatley Elementary and more. Call 211 or text “Summer Meals” to 914-342-7744 to find meal sites and times.
Road work alerts
Road work season is moving into full swing, and the Delaware Department of Transportation announced these local projects:
Georgetown Road in Laurel, across from the flea market, will be closed between Route 13 and Seaford Road starting Wednesday, June 22 at 10 a.m. and continuing through July 1. Crews will be replacing a pipe.
Rifle Range Road in Bridgeville will see some intermittent lane closures on Tuesday, June 21, to install markers for a change in the median crossover on Route 13. Traffic from Rifle Range Road will no longer be able to cross to make a left turn onto 13. Traffic from Route 13 will still be able to turn either direction onto Rifle Range Road. DelDOT said it is making this change because this intersection has a history of crashes.
Early bird gets the shrimp
The Harrington Fire Company recommended buying tickets in advance for its crab and shrimp feast on June 25, and everyone seems to have heeded the advice. Per the company’s website, the event is sold out.
Keller Hopkins lacks ethics for Sussex County Council
Keller Hopkins’ primary campaign signs are everywhere, and they are illegal in timing and location according to county ordinance. Doesn’t this tell us everything we need to know about the way he will behave on the County Council? Hopkins is already not playing by the existing rules, and we know he will do nothing to manage the ongoing overdevelopment of Sussex County because it is in his personal interest as a contractor to approve every new development and not enforce any of the existing regulations.
We need to keep this kind of self interest and disregard for the existing laws off our council. John Rieley is reasonable, conservative and ethical – we need to vote in the primary to keep him on the County Council.
Mike Volpe, Millsboro
Friday, June 17
- Community Resource Block Party with Thresholds Inc. and First State Community Action Agency, 10 a.m. at 6 N. Railroad Avenue in Georgetown. Resource tables, giveaways, overdose awareness kits and more.
- Friday Night Live at 407 High St. in Seaford, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Entertainment, food, local vendors and drinks.
Saturday, June 18
- Strawberry and Sangria Festival at Hudson Fields in Milton. Fresh strawberries, strawberry desserts, cocktails, kids’ activities, artisans, farmers market and more. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Juneteenth celebration, hosted by Cornerstone Community Center and the Bridgeville Library. 3 p.m. at the library. Music, dancing, vendors and food; along with an appearance by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester.
Tuesday, June 21
- Harrington City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m., with a public hearing on a new rule prohibiting parking on the south side of Thorpe Street and south side of East Milby Street.
- Summer concert at Holts Landing State Park on the Indian River Bay: De Tierra Caliente Solo, 6 p.m.
Thursday, June 23
- Hands-on children’s program from Delaware State Parks at Ellendale Town Park, 10 a.m. The event returns at the same time on Thursday, June 30 and Thursday, July 7.
- Genealogy workshop for beginners at Bridgeville Library, 6 p.m. Live and via Zoom.
Friday, June 24
- Gallery 107’s “Summer Splendor Art Show” opening reception with refreshments, featuring work from Nanticoke River Arts Council artists. 5-7 p.m. at Gallery 107 in Seaford.
Tuesday, June 28
- Summer concert at Holts Landing: Flatland Drive (bluegrass), 6 p.m.
Monday, July 4
- Milton July 4th Festival, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Milton Memorial Park, organized by the Milton Chamber. Games, dunk tanks, food, water balloon fights, sack races, bike decorating contest, parade and more.
Monday, July 11
- Public hearing on proposed Bridgeville voting districts, 7 p.m. at the Bridgeville Library during the regularly scheduled Commission meeting.