Here's a look at news and events from around southern Delaware this week.
Greenwood takes steps to cover budget shortfall
Greenwood Town Council, faced with the need to raise more money to cover its budget, voted unanimously on Wednesday to raise a number of fees.
The town lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue when Sussex County took on operation of the town’s wastewater. The town had previously partnered with Bridgeville on managing wastewater.
Last year’s budget counted on $340,000 in sewer revenues.
At a November meeting, council members had discussed the possibility of raising rates.
“We’ve got to make up this money somewhere,” Town Manager Janet Todd said at the time.
“I’m as against raising taxes as anyone else in town,” Council member Mike Moran said, “because I have to pay it too.” But he conceded that the council might have to go that route.
The town would have to deal with the shortfall “sooner rather than later,” Mayor Donald Donovan said, especially because it was about $140,000 in the red in November on the current year’s budget.
The increased fees are for building permits, water impact fees and water rates, property taxes, certificates of occupancy, rental licenses, property taxes and business licenses. They take effect Jan. 1.
Property taxes will increase from $1.80 to $2 per $100 of assessed value.
Building permit costs will go up from $100 to a sliding fee based on the cost of the project, running from $100 to $225. Water impact fees will double from $750 to $1,500. Water rates will go from a $30 base fee to $40, with a slight increase in cost for extra usage as well. Business licenses will increase from $50-$100 to $75-$125.
All told, this could raise close to $150,000 in extra revenue, Town Manager Janet Todd estimated. The lion’s share of that would come from monthly water rates, an estimated $75,000 extra, and property taxes, about $45,000 extra.
Planned Parenthood opens in Seaford; fetal burial legislation back on the table
After months of protests and debate over the impending addition of a new Planned Parenthood location in Seaford, the site has quietly opened. WRDE TV reported that it opened Dec. 1, the same day as oral arguments in a Mississippi case that could have a big impact on abortion law in the country. Planned Parenthood offers a number of health services, but comes under fire from opponents for providing abortions.
After an outcry, Seaford Council tabled legislation a couple of months ago apparently aimed at Planned Parenthood that would require aborted remains in the city to be buried or cremated. That ordinance is now on the agenda for a second reading at Seaford’s Dec. 14 Council meeting. Back in October, the Council tabled the vote on the ordinance after getting a letter from the ACLU of Delaware objecting to the law as a violation of state law and the U.S. Constitution, as well as another letter from the state Attorney General's office asking them to table it.
Opponents are lining up this time around too. The Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice released an email saying it was working with Women’s March Sussex, Delaware National Organization for Women and the ACLU of Delaware to coordinate a letter writing campaign to the Seaford City Council and to try to fill up the room at the upcoming meeting.
The clinic has been a flashpoint for months in the city. When word got out about the new site, protesters began gathering near the clinic holding anti-abortion signs up to passing traffic. There was also a “Rally for Roe” march in favor of legal abortion at the site in October, also attended by counterprotesters.
The facility is the fourth Planned Parenthood of Delaware site, according to a press release from the organization. It is the only Planned Parenthood clinic in Sussex County and joins the Easton, Maryland clinic as the second site south of Dover.
The article on zoning published Monday, Dec. 6 has been updated to correct and clarify the roles of the Board of Adjustment and the Planning and Zoning Commission. The Board of Adjustment handles requests for variances.
Downstate football is well represented in title games
Two downstate teams are in the high school football title game in their respective divisions, Woodbridge and Laurel.
Woodbridge, still undefeated on the season, takes on Archmere at 11 a.m. Saturday at Delaware Stadium at the University of Delaware in Newark for the 2A title. The Blue Raiders beat Wilmington Friends last week 24-14 in front of a home crowd. Archmere advanced with a 20-16 win over Delaware Military Academy.
The team announced on Facebook that it will be leaving the high school at around 7 a.m. Saturday morning, led by Greenwood and Bridgeville fire companies. Fans who want to cheer them on their way are invited to turn out with cow bells and signs at the high school and at Royal Farms in Greenwood.
Laurel plays St. Elizabeth at 6 p.m. in Newark for the 1A title. They beat Indian River 33-0 to advance. St. E’s beat Tatnall 33-0 as well, so both teams are coming off big wins.
Woodbridge shared the following information on attending the games:
Fans can buy one ticket and stay for all the title games. All ticket sales are online through UD’s ticketing vendor. (Woodbridge is on the visitors side.)
Those going to the game will want to pay particular attention to COVID-19 requirements, as they are strictly enforced: UD requires proof of full vaccination, meaning the final dose at least 14 days earlier, or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the event. At-home tests are not accepted; they have to be taken through a medical or accredited company.
To save time, fans can upload evidence of their vaccination or test results ahead of time and get a Visitor Events Health Pass at covidcheck.udel.edu. Even with documentation of vaccine or a test, visitors still have to check in the day of the event with the UD Daily Health Check. Masks are required at indoor facilities at the stadium.
Those who can’t make it to the games can watch a livestream via the NFHS Network. A month’s subscription is $10.99.
Critical blood shortage in the region
On Dec. 1, the Blood Bank of Delmarva announced a “blood emergency” as a number of factors are contributing to a decline in blood donations. The organization shoots for a seven-day blood supply but said it was down to a three day blood supply at that point. The need for O positive and O negative blood was even more acute, with less than a day’s supply for each.
The blood bank cited a number of reasons for the shortage, which is nationwide and has been felt throughout the pandemic. These include donor fatigue from constant urgent requests, fewer blood drives from businesses and colleges, fears over COVID-19 and the new omicron variant and confusion over whether vaccinated people can donate blood (they can).
The busy holiday season is typically a tough time anyway for blood banks. The Blood Bank of Delmarva reported that a Black Friday blood drive at Tanger Outlets in Rehoboth only had 30 of 95 available slots filled.
Cheer up an injured fire volunteer
Fire police Capt. Ken Tull, 83, is still undergoing rehab after a bad crash while he was working an accident scene in October. The Seaford Fire Department in a Facebook update said Tull would enjoy getting Christmas cards while he’s in rehab. Send cards to the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department, 302 E. King Street, Seaford, 19973, attn: Ken Tull.
When the red tape runs out
Among the many things disrupted by nationwide supply chain shortages are Delaware state park annual passes and surf fishing permits. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control recently announced that the permits, usually available this time of year, are being held up because the manufacturer is waiting for supplies.
Thanks to that, anglers with a 2021 surf fishing permit can use it through the end of January. Access to state parks is free anyway through the end of February. DNREC says it will start selling the passes and permits as soon as it gets them, stating in a hopeful tone that could happen in early 2022.
For more information, go to the state parks website.
Bootlegging for a cause
The Milton Theatre is turning to bootlegging to raise money for improvements. Well, kind of. It’s holding a “Bootlegger’s Ball” on Jan. 8 with a Roaring 20s theme. There will be alcohol but it’s legally produced now that Prohibition is over. The evening will feature live jazz by Good Shot Judy, flapper dance group the Ladybirds, heavy hors d’ouvres, a full bar (extra cost), a silent auction, a gallery of historical images and more. Food is by chef Hari Cameron and WRDE’s Madeleine Overturf will emcee. Get tickets online at miltontheatre.com or call 302-684-3038.
Help offered, and help needed
The Food Bank of Delaware is holding a drive-thru emergency food pantry on Monday, Dec. 13 at Crossroad Community Church between Bridgeville and Georgetown. The event starts at 11 a.m. and is first come, first served; the food bank said it’s prepared to serve up to 1,000 people. People should stay in their vehicle and have their trunk cleaned out to make space for the groceries. The church is at 20684 State Forest Road in Georgetown. You can register in advance to speed up the check-in process at dec13sussexcounty.eventbrite.com.
Also, help is urgently needed at two emergency overnight shelters in Seaford, Code Purple Director Nikki Gonzalez said in a Facebook post. The shelters, at Grace Seaford and St. Luke’s churches, only have a handful of volunteers so far. Sign up to volunteer on Code Purple’s website. Anyone needing shelter can call 302-519-0024.
Caroling on the Circle in Georgetown, originally set for this past Monday, was postponed because of weather and is now set for Monday, Dec. 13, at 6:30 p.m., assuming plows can clear away all the snow from the big storm earlier this week (at least 37 snowflakes were spotted in Greenwood). There will be carols in English and Spanish and musical performances. Admission is free, but attendees are asked to bring nonperishable food to donate.
For those who want still more carols, Caroling in the Park is scheduled in Bridgeville on Sunday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. at Bridgeville Historical Park. Union United Methodist Church is hosting the event, which also features a living nativity, a hot chocolate station and more. Children 12 and under get a goodie bag.
The Bridgeville Library is serving as a dropoff spot for Toys for Tots. Bring new, unwrapped toys through Wednesday, Dec. 15.
The town of Greenwood and its police department are helping a family with gifts for the holidays. Take a tag from the Christmas tree in the lobby for donation suggestions, and bring new, unwrapped gifts to the police department by Dec. 17. People can also donate money to help cover wrapping paper and extra gifts.
Those who have had it up to here with Santa can take their children to see the Grinch instead at Hungry Howie's pizza in Seaford on Saturday, Dec. 18 from 1 to 3 p.m. The Grinch will pose for photos and, reflecting his well-documented change of heart, hand out treats to kids.
Greenwood is closing several streets for its Christmas parade on Friday at 7 p.m. Closures will start at 6 p.m. and run until around 9 p.m. The town also said no parking will be allowed after 4 p.m. on Market Street from Hickman to Mill, Governors Avenue, Mill Street, Second Street, South First Street, Church Street, Draper Street, Dixie Street, Tatman Street and Snider Street. Cars will be towed at owners' expense. The parade has about 150 entries, which will line up on the west side of town, the town said in a Facebook post. Amity Coffee Roasters, which has not yet reopened after its move, announced it will be running a coffee cart during the parade from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. outside its future location at 8 W. Market St.
Harrington Library book club invites new members
The Harrington Library is holding a socially-distanced but in-person book club meeting on Thursday, Dec. 16 from 12 to 1 p.m. in the library’s multipurpose room. Light refreshments will be served and people will discuss books they’re reading now or hope to read this winter. The library said new members are welcome; the club is for adults 18 and over. Sign up in advance to attend. Contact the library at 302-398-4647 or email@example.com.
Milton will host its annual Holly Festival Saturday, Dec. 11, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Ellendale Fire Company is holding a Christmas Cookie Walk on Dec. 12 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the firehouse on Main Street. For $10, you can fill a box with cookies of your choice. Santa will make an appearance and there will also be hot chocolate and cider for sale. Proceeds benefit a family in need, the fire department said.
Harrington Fire Company's annual Breakfast with Santa is Sunday, Dec. 12, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. The fire company, which is asking people to buy tickets online at harringtonfireco.square.site. Any tickets left will be sold at the door.
In case you missed it
Our two-part series on land use and development in Sussex County published this week for paying subscribers. Part one looked at some misconceptions on the role of County Council in approving developments, and how the process actually works.
Part two explored some of the criticisms of the way the county is handling its growth boom.
In other news, Greenwood Council made a surprise announcement on Wednesday about the town's police chief.
And state police reported an apparent murder-suicide in Heritage Shores in Bridgeville last week.
Also: The deadline to file for the Greenwood election is today.
Delaware is seeing a winter surge in COVID, officials said in a press conference this week.