Here's a look at news and events from around southern Delaware this week.
Lake board president briefly discusses governor's mask change; other local officials have decisions to make
While Gov. John Carney is lifting the statewide mask mandate today at 8 a.m., and says the school mandate will end March 31, a patchwork of local rules and precautions are still in effect. And school districts, which have been going by state guidelines, will need to put their own policies in place.
At Thursday night's school board meeting at Lake Forest, the board did not make any decisions on future policies. But board President Earle Dempsey made it fairly clear how he felt. All through the pandemic, he said, the board's stance has been that it would follow the state's guidelines, but would not go further than that.
"Right now what we are faced with is a state mandate that is coming to an end, and I do not believe at this juncture that there is going to be any appetite from the board to go above and beyond that," Dempsey said.
Superintendent Steven Lucas mentioned that the district has not gotten any guidance yet from the state as to the details of how schools should operate after the mask rule changes (for example, with quarantine after exposure and situations like that).
"Over the next several weeks, we'll be watching the data closely and preparing a safe and thoughtful way to transition to any new regulations once they're published, and I ask everyone to be patient as we work through this," he said.
There weren't many people at the meeting to weigh in, but a couple of district parents did speak, both against continuing masks after March 31. One minced no words, calling the mask mandate stupid, ignorant and child abuse, and threatening legal action if the board does continue the policy. Another spoke more mildly about what his children have lost in their educational experience during the pandemic and asked the board to at least make masks optional after the mandate ends.
"It's time to stop this," he said.
The city of Rehoboth recently announced it will be keeping most COVID rules for the time being. Vaccinated city employees will no longer have to wear a mask at work, but members of the public will still have to mask up if they enter city buildings. Public meetings will remain virtual.
Greenwood Council is meeting online only. Bridgeville went virtual for 60 days in January during the surge and will reevaluate after that. Harrington has continued in-person meetings this winter.
Carney on Tuesday said each phase of the pandemic has a different focus and concentration, and he thinks Delaware is moving into a new phase based on the data. State officials are now focusing on vaccination as a way to stop the spread. The governor said about half the people he’s heard from think the mask mandate was lifted too soon, and half not soon enough, so maybe that’s a sign he got it right.
The governor again mentioned a distinction in stats on COVID hospitalizations. The state's numbers include people in the hospital with COVID – for another reason but testing positive while there – and for COVID, because of the disease itself. In either case, hospitalizations were down to 215 on Thursday per state data, with 21 critical, a far cry from the high of more than 700 hospitalizations in January.
Greenwood Council picks a mayor
The Greenwood Town Council did its annual sorting out on Wednesday after the recent election, selecting a mayor, vice mayor and secretary.
Mayor Donald Donovan will continue in that position, Willard Russell remains the vice mayor, and Donald Torbert remains the secretary. In the January election, Council members Russell, Norman Reed and Torbert all won reelection.
In some municipalities, the office of mayor is separate from the Council and the mayor doesn't always have a vote. In Greenwood, the Council selects a mayor of the Council each year, and that person is also mayor of the town. In effect, the Council president is mayor and per the town charter, can also vote.
Speaking of the charter, that’s on the agenda for Council, as it will begin reviewing the document for portions that may need updating.
Bridgeville cancels its election
Seats for districts 1, 2 and 3 were scheduled to go up for election in the town of Bridgeville on March 5, but the vote was canceled because all the candidates were running uncontested, the town announced.
Marlene Saunders, Thomas Moran and Bruce Smith will each serve another two-year term and will be sworn in March 14.
State trooper's shooting of Seaford woman ruled justified
The Delaware Department of Justice has finished its investigation of a March 25, 2021 police shooting southeast of Seaford that left Kelly Rooks, 51, dead.
Rooks had a history of calling the police and was said to be dealing with mental illness, the department said. Police responded to her home for a report of a possible overdose.
In brief, this is the police account of what happened: After some time of officers and EMTs interacting with an increasingly agitated Rooks, she got a gun and, after saying “Which one of you pigs wants to die tonight?” came out of her room and fired a shot in the direction of one of the troopers, who returned fire, killing her.
The family has filed a lawsuit, saying one of the officers was hostile and aggressive and escalated the situation, Delaware Online reported. You can read their detailed coverage here.
The Department of Justice’s report also has a detailed description of the case, dashcam videos and photos from the incident.
Millsboro man dies in crash on Route 24
A fatal crash involving a tractor-trailer that closed down Route 24 late last Friday left a 72-year-old Millsboro man dead, police said Monday.
James Watson was driving east on Route 24 just west of Hitch Pond Road near Laurel and the tractor-trailer, for unknown reasons, came into his lane and hit his car head-on, state police said. Watson was not wearing a seat belt and was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the tractor-trailer was not hurt.
Police are investigating the crash.
Outpouring of help continues after Laurel fire
The Good Ole Boy Foundation has been spearheading efforts to help the more than 50 people who lost their homes when the former Rigbie Hotel burned in Laurel. The organization recently posted to Facebook that it does not need any more clothing donations. It is now accepting only donations of money and specific items. An updating Google document lists those needs for those who would like to donate goods. The organization asked those who sign up to bring items to Dukes Lumber in Laurel.
The foundation said it has been working on finding rentals for the families and a number have already been placed in homes.
The Seaford Volunteer Fire Department auxiliary is taking preorders through March 6 for a fundraising sale. Apple dumplings are $4 each, chicken salad is $4 a pint and vegetable beef soup is $10 a quart. Pickup is Saturday, March 12, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the fire station on East King Street. Email email@example.com or contact any member to order.
The Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Company is also holding its 33rd annual spring dinner as a drive-thru event on Sunday, March 6. The menu is roast beef and dumplings, mashed potatoes (with gravy of course), green beans, cole slaw, rolls/butter and a dessert. Preordering is required, no later than March 2 at 6 p.m. Pickup time is noon to 3 p.m. at the fire station on Market Street. $15, cash only. To order, contact Hilda (302-629-4114), Petie (302-448-0149), Patsy (302-258-5924) or Bonnie (302-337-7275).
Dish of the week
By Edgar Diaz
Oatmeal Crumble, shown with ice cream and red wine syrup
When my mom needed a fast, easy, and affordable dessert to feed a crowd, she often made apple crisp.
My favorite part was always the oatmeal crumble on top. It was crunchy, sweet, and cinnamon-y, and I loved eating just the topping off the dessert.
It recently occurred to me — if the oatmeal crumble is my favorite part, why not just make that instead of the whole dessert? So I did. And now you can, too.
- 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup softened butter
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp table salt
- Preheat oven to 350F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a fork or pastry cutter, mix all ingredients together in a bowl until the flour is incorporated and crumbles have formed.
- Spread crumbles evenly on the baking sheet, and bake 10 minutes. Stir well, and then bake 10 more minutes or until browned. Remove from oven and let cool.
Store in a covered container, and use it on top of your favorite ice cream, with fresh fruit, or just on its own! It's basically granola, but ... sweeter? Enjoy!
Learn about 3D printing, coding and more
Keith Lohmeyer and Rachel Wright will teach three sessions on 3D printing and design, electronics and coding at the Bridgeville Library on Thursday, Feb. 24 and Saturday, Feb. 26. The Thursday event is for ages 10-18; the Saturday event is for adults too. Sign up here.
Help keep an eye on the Nanticoke
The Nanticoke Watershed Alliance is looking for Creekwatcher volunteers to monitor a number of sites, including in or near Seaford and Bridgeville. The volunteers will visit their sites every other week from March through November and use provided equipment to take measurements and water samples. Find out more and register for the March 19 training here.
So much drama
An adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ classic “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is coming to the Milton Theatre. The student production will be Thursday to Saturday, Feb. 17-19. Showtime is 7 p.m. weeknights and 2 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12-$15 and you can get them at miltontheatre.com.
Also this Friday, Feb. 11, the theater will host the Musical Theatre Ensemble’s “Rock N’ Roll Radio” show at 7 p.m., featuring classic rock hits. The ensemble features voice, dance and acting students ages 6-18. Tickets are $12.
Congrats to Lauren Smack, sophomore at Woodbridge High School who recently got the chance to sing at Carnegie Hall as part of World Strides’ High School Honors Performance Series. Per the program’s website, students from around the country audition for the chance to perform and work with renowned conductors.
Festival’s new date is this weekend
The Fire and Ice Festival in Bethany beach was postponed because organizers got a little more ice than they bargained for, in the form of snowflakes dumped by the winter storm at the end of January. It now starts Friday, Feb. 11 and runs through Sunday. The event features ice sculpture tours, bonfires, fireworks, music and more.
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In case you missed it: Stories from the past week