Seaford grad plays a role in stunning telescope photos; other local news

Seaford grad plays a role in stunning telescope photos; other local news
A James Webb Space Telescope image of Stephan's Quintet, which as NASA notes is a group of galaxies previously most famous for that scene in the beginning of "It's a Wonderful Life" where the angels are talking to each other. Behind these galaxies, other galaxies dot the night sky like stars. Image by NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

Here's a look at news and events from around southern Delaware this week.

Seaford High School valedictorian is now a NASA astrophysicist

As the first photos streamed back this week from NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, everyone suddenly realized that it existed and was very cool. And soon after that, everyone felt very small while viewing the breathtakingly sharp images of impossibly distant galaxies.

"This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground," NASA says. Image by NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

One member of the telescope team is Jane Rigby, a NASA astrophysicist who hails from southern Delaware. Rigby, of Seaford, was valedictorian of her class at Seaford High School in 1996, according to the district.

Rigby recently explained her job scheduling the work the telescope does in an interview in Scientific American.

The Webb Space Telescope, NASA says, is the “largest and most powerful space science telescope ever constructed.” Before it could send back these images, it traveled a million miles from Earth and took months to set up once it got to its appointed piece of space. It will peer at galaxies more than 13 billion light years away – back to when the first stars and galaxies formed, NASA said.

“As an ‘operations’ project scientist, that means I worry about how we’re going to use the telescope — everything from selecting proposed observations to making observing schedules, from operating the telescope to getting the data back to Earth and removing all the instrumental signatures,” Rigby told the Scientific American.

As a high school student, Rigby wrote an occasional column for the News Journal as part of its Community Advisory Board. Her interest in astronomy was apparent then in a 1995 column she wrote about the emerging promise of the internet, mentioning she used it to watch live video from the space shuttle and to reach out to a NASA astronomer about the future of planetary science.  

New diner planned for Greenwood

The Rehoboth Diner may get a new location in Greenwood. Town Manager Janet Todd said at Wednesday's Town Council meeting that the diner owner is working on plans for a new restaurant at the old Delmarva Natural Stone building just south of the fire station, between the north and south lanes of Route 13.

The owner also wants to refurbish the gazebo on the site to be an ice cream shop, she said. The plans are in the early stages and the town doesn't know when they will come to fruition, but the way seems clear for the proposal – Todd said the zoning at the spot is appropriate.

As far as business potential, "I think he'll be successful for sure," she said.

Meadery coming to downtown Seaford

Milton’s Brimming Horn Meadery is expanding to Seaford, the city announced this week. Co-owner Jon Talkington is a Seaford resident.

“Jon and I are long time residents of Seaford and along with Jon's business partner JR are so excited to bring mead, fruit wines, and cider to Seaford!” his wife Jennifer Talkington posted to Facebook. “TBHM plans to have live music and invite food trucks as well.”

The facility is set to open this fall at 106 Spring Street, the city said.

“We hope this location becomes a regular hangout for friends, neighbors, and travelers to share drinks, music, and fun just like our Milton location,” Jon Talkington said in a statement.

An adult spotted lanternfly. Photo courtesy of Delaware Department of Agriculture 

Spotted lanternfly arrives in Sussex

Everyone seems to be moving to Sussex County these days, and the spotted lanternfly is no exception. The state of Delaware announced Tuesday that the invasive insect, which eats a great many things we like such as shrubs, orchards, grapes and hops, has established populations in Georgetown, Milford, Seaford, Ocean View and Rehoboth.

It was first found in the the state in 2017 in New Castle County, the Department of Agriculture said.

People are encouraged to visit Delaware’s spotted lanternfly website to learn about the quarantine and the different ways to kill lanternflies.

The quarantine means businesses are required to get a permit to transport regulated items, which include landscaping or construction materials, firewood, packing materials, plants, and outdoor items like mowers, chairs, grills, tarps and so on.

3 indicted in May shooting in Laurel that left a boy seriously hurt

Three teens have been arrested after their indictment on charges related to the shooting of a boy at the Holly Brook apartment complex on May 9, Laurel Police say.

Police did not give the injured boy's age at the time, but described him as a juvenile. Officers and people on the scene worked to keep him alive until EMS arrived and took him to the hospital, police said.

Damon Hardy, 19, of Laurel; Antione Hudson, 19, of Laurel; and an unnamed 17-year-old from Seaford were indicted on charges of first degree attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, reckless endangering, and gun charges. Hudson and the 17-year-old also face drug charges after police searched their homes during the arrests.

The 17-year-old was held at Stevenson Correctional Facility, and Hudson and Hardy were held at Sussex Correctional Institute.

Bridgeville's new voting districts get a low-key hearing

The map of Bridgeville’s new voting districts had its first public hearing on Monday, and unlike the last go-round it doesn’t seem like there’s much dispute over the new lines.

Some residents had objected to putting Heritage Shores all in one district last time, reasoning that it unfairly reduced the influence of the development’s residents. This time, that part of town gets two full districts. The northern part of town will be divided into three districts. The public hearing Monday saw little public comment.

The biggest change there is that commissioners John Tomeski and Bruce Smith will end up in the same district, now District 3. If commissioners approve the map in August, it will take effect for the March 2023 election, Town Manager Bethany DeBussy said. The election would be for a second commissioner for Heritage Shores – Tom Moran already represents that area – and to resolve who is the representative for District 3, she said. The new Heritage Shores representative would serve a full two year term, while the District 3 seat would come up for a vote again in 2024.  

Plans for Ladybug Music Festival

Milford brings back the Ladybug Music Festival on Saturday, July 30. Offering an all-female lineup, the festival was founded in 2012, its website says, as an alternative to Firefly. The Dover festival has gotten criticism in the past for not having enough female headliners, although under new management it has diversified in recent years.

The Milford festival will run from 2-9 p.m. in the downtown, featuring more than 35 acts. You can find the lineup here.

Road work ahead

In a traffic alert puzzlingly datelined Felton, the Department of Transportation announced Fairground Road in Harrington will be closed for the Delaware State Fair starting Thursday, July 21 and running through Sunday, July 31. Fairground Road is the one on the north side of the fairgrounds bordered by railroad tracks. It will be closed between East Street and Route 13.

Harrington is a busy place for road work lately, as intermittent lane closures at the intersection of Route 13 and Route 14 will begin Tuesday, July 19, DelDOT said. The work to replace a damaged signal pole on Route 13 north will take place overnight 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

In Sussex, Barnes Road west of Bridgeville will close starting 10 a.m. Thursday, July 21, so crews can make drainage improvements. The work is expected to continue through Aug. 1.

Also, Woodland Road, which runs from Seaford down to connect with Woodland Ferry Road not far north of the ferry, will be closed starting Monday, July 25 for work to prevent erosion. The closure will be between Woodland Ferry Road and Lonesome Road.

It's never too early to start planning for Christmas, apparently

Unable to wait until mid-September like everyone else, the city of Rehoboth Beach is already talking about Christmas. Or rather, its Christmas tree. The city announced in a news release that it is beginning its annual search for a donation of a “tall and shapely evergreen.”

The city is looking for a tree that is at least 35 feet tall, in a relatively open area and not fenced in, and accessible without having to park on nearby properties. Ideally, it would be within about 15 miles of the city. They will take care of removal and transportation of the tree.

To nominate your tree, contact Communications Specialist Lynne Coan at or 302-227-6181, ext. 522.

Reader letters

Note: We have three letters this week opposed to Sussex Council candidate Keller Hopkins. This is not because we are pushing a campaign against Hopkins, but because those are the only letters we got.  

Keller Hopkins should not be voted onto our county council

I write this because during the June 24 Planning and Zoning meeting it was evident that Mr. Hopkins does not understand the voting process. After serving since 2016 and approving land-use applications, his colleague had to explain the voting process during the recent vote on the Coral Lakes subdivision, a subdivision within his district. Furthermore he showed little or no concern for the voting public.

Mr. Hopkins was directly asked to give a reason for his "no" vote during the hearing on the Coral Lakes application. After a long silence, apparently searching for the reason for his “no” vote, Mr. Hopkins' response was, “One of my reasons is … I have issues with the wetlands area.” However, he did not state those other issues leaving residents wondering if Keller Hopkins really understands the harm this development will incur on the local environment or if he was appealing for more votes.

As a commissioner, he has the power to place conditions on this subdivision to limit irreversible damage to the surrounding area and to protect the quality of life for his constituents.  If properly prepared, he could have presented a logical perspective for the other P&Z commissioners to vote against the application. He chose not to do this.

If, after six years on the P&Z Commission, Mr. Hopkins still does not understand a simple voting procedure and its impacts on Sussex County residents, how can he be trusted to make even more wide-ranging decisions for Sussex County?

This instance shows Keller Hopkins should not be voted onto our county council.

Please keep John Rieley representing District 5 in the September 13 primary election.

Valerie Wood, Millsboro

Vote for Rieley

Keller Hopkins, who owns a contracting company that works directly with big developers in this area, is running for the District 5 council seat. You can't help but see the many large signs throughout Sussex County. Who is paying for those expensive signs? Who are his financial backers? His signs appear on the property of Capstone Homes, developer-owned hotels and Tidewater Building Management property. You couldn't have missed the tractor-trailer or billboard with his name on Route 1 south! It is obvious who owns that property — and who is paying for Hopkins' campaign. Is this the person you want to oversee our county?

Please don't be misled by seeing a large name. Vote for the guy with the small signs, a local farmer not funded by large developers. Vote for John Rieley, who is not tied to developers and real estate. John is an honest and good person, and he will fight for you as a resident of Sussex County.

Joan E. Cohen, Millsboro  

Who is supporting Hopkins’ expensive campaign signs?

Hmmm, all the signs for Keller Hopkins cannot be cheap! His large signs are everywhere throughout the county, beyond his district. Who is paying for his signs? Why are his financial supporters so desperate to have Hopkins serve on our council? His business is tied to developers who are already raping our county’s landscape. We do not need another councilman tied to developers running our county.

Kit Zak, Lewes

Other events

Friday, July 15

  • Milford’s Second Street Players perform “Oliver!”, based on Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.” 7 p.m. Also Saturday at 7 and Sunday at 2.

Saturday, July 16

  • Live music at Trap Pond State Park, featuring Vintage Blue Bluegrass Band, 7 p.m.
  • Georgetown Historical Society’s Antique Fire Truck, Ambulance, Apparatus and Car Show, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Marvel Carriage Museum in Georgetown.

Monday, July 18

Wednesday, July 20

  • Rehoboth Children’s Theater free production of “Puss in Boots” at Delmar Public Library, 10 a.m. Other library performances on the schedule include: Selbyville (10:30 a.m. July 26), Greenwood (10:30 a.m. July 28), Seaford (12:30 p.m. Aug. 3).
  • Milton Historical Society’s Truckin’ with the Music, 5-8 p.m. Food vendors, cornhole and other yard games. Bring a chair or blanket for the concert in the park.
  • Learn about record expungement at Restoration Community Church in Seaford, 7 p.m.

Thursday, July 21

  • Concert by 33 1/3 at Sandhill Fields, 7 to 9 p.m. Part of Georgetown Summer Concert Series.

Saturday, July 30

  • Harrington Library mobile gaming bus, featuring seven widescreen TVs, a laser light show, and multiplayer gaming. Free. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 2

  • Blades Police Department National Night Out, 6-8 p.m. Food, fun, games and music.
  • Woodbridge Theatre Boot Camp, open to all members and alumni of the WHS Theatre Company. Runs 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Aug. 4. Register by July 18.

Friday, Aug. 5

Saturday, Aug. 6

  • Recycled Cardboard Boat Regatta, Blades Marina, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Design and build a boat from recycled corrugated cardboard, and see how long you can stay afloat.

Tuesday, Aug. 9

  • Greenwood Police Department Night Out, 6-8 p.m. at the firehouse.

Saturday, Aug. 13

  • Eastern Shore AFRAM Festival at the Ross Mansion in Seaford, starting at 8 a.m. Car show, Miss AFRAM pageant, art exhibit, music, games for kids and more.

Sunday, Aug. 14

  • Rubber duck race in Broad Creek to benefit the Laurel Fire Department. Winning duck gets $500. Event starts at 10 a.m., race at noon. Contact the fire department at 302-875-3081 for ticket info.

Saturday, Aug. 27

ICYMI: Stories from the past week

Housing crisis: Why are so few developers building affordable homes?
The critical shortage of affordable housing in southern Delaware prompts a simple question: Why not get busy building more, as soon as possible? After all, the demand is there, so why don’t builders meet it? As usually happens with simple questions, the answer isn’t so easy. Those who
This was a tough year for teachers and students, as behavior issues increased
Veteran middle school teacher Giffin Bowen has learned ways to defuse classroom tension. When kids get their phones out, for example, he tries not to make it a big issue but just makes them put the phone away. If they refuse instructions in situations like that, he’ll give them