Support for Laurel fire victims and other local news

Support for Laurel fire victims and other local news
We've been running some coastal photography provided by Taylor Goebel, who took the above image. Unfortunately for us but not for her, Taylor recently moved on to a great food writer job on the West Coast. Thanks for your support Taylor and all the best in your new gig! 

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

Auction will benefit Laurel fire victims

Two local foundations are teaming up to help victims of the recent fire at the apartments in the former Rigbie Hotel in Laurel in late January. The fire displaced about 54 people and caused around $1 million in damage, according to the state fire marshal’s office.

The Kim and Evans Family Foundation and the Good Ole Boy Foundation are hosting an online auction benefiting the families. The Kim and Evans Family Foundation said on Facebook that the auction will begin Sunday, Feb. 20 at 8 p.m. and end Sunday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m.

To donate items for the auction, email to arrange pickup, or drop them off at Dr. Joe Kim’s office at 30549 Sussex Highway in Laurel by Feb. 16. The foundation suggested donations of gift cards to local businesses or themed gift baskets for the auction, but also noted that basically any new item would work.

On Thursday, a spokesman for the fire marshal’s office wrote in an email that investigators are still looking into the origin and cause of the fire. The estimates on the number of people displaced may change as they continue to investigate.  

The fire was reported just after 7 p.m. on Jan. 27, and all the occupants of the building escaped without injury, officials said.

Full-time coverage coming for local sports

Area sports coverage is about to get a big boost, with Draper Media, which operates TV stations WBOC and WRDE, announcing recently it’s launching a 24/7 Delmarva Sports Network.

Bill Vernon, who played football and wrestled at Delmar in his high school days, will lead the network, Draper Media said. Vernon said in the news release that the coverage will include boys and girls sports from area high schools, as well as colleges and minor league pro teams.

“We are giving viewers quality production unlike anything they would expect to see for local sports,” he said.

The network plans to include sports specials, scoreboards and live and taped games, and will also include already existing programming like Outdoors Delmarva. It launches Feb. 7 and will be available on channel 16.2 and cable.

Speak out on what you want from local news

If you have opinions about local media coverage, here’s a chance to share them.

The nonprofit Local Journalism Initiative recently launched with this message: We need local news, and we need a new model to make it work. (That’s also been a theme here at the Independent.)

One of the organization’s first projects is researching what news and information Delawareans need, and you are welcome to participate. Text “DELAWARE” to 73224 to let them know what you want out of local news coverage.

Thanks to all the paid subscribers supporting our work. You make this venture possible. If you'd like to become a paying member, here's how.

Is no news good news on Aldi in Milford?

Last year, Milford Live reported on an intriguing development: The Tsionas Management company asked the City Council for approval to place an additional sign at Milford Plaza along Route 113 for Sherwin Williams, because Tsionas was asking the paint store to switch from the former Sav-A-Lot site to the former Sears building. The reason for that plan was that the company was in talks with Aldi and Marshall’s to bring them into the plaza.

Since then, there has been no announcement about any deal. I reached out to Aldi in August of last year, and Jeff Baehr, Frederick Division vice president at ALDI, said in a statement, “At this time, we do not have any information to share about a potential ALDI store in Milford, Delaware. As soon as there are any updates regarding ALDI stores in the Milford area, we will reach out.”

I checked in with Tsionas Management in January and got a similar response from a company representative: “Unfortunately, we do not have any information on these matters … when there is something to share, we will share it.”

So there you have it. I just wrote an entire news brief telling you there’s no news here.

Harrington planner moves on

The city of Harrington is advertising for a new city planner after former planner Karen Brittingham stepped down at the end of last year. City staff said she didn’t really give a reason for the decision, but acting City Manager Norman Barlow said in an email that she had done a good job for the city. An effort to reach Brittingham for comment was unsuccessful.

Dish of the week

By Edgar Diaz

Photo by Edgar Diaz

30-minute weeknight taco soup

Kid approved, and super easy to make.


  • 1 lb meat: chicken, ground beef, etc.
  • 1 small or medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cans of beans & their liquid – black, pinto, and kidney beans are great, but use what you have. I used great northern and kidney beans in the above photo.
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 10-15 oz frozen or canned corn, about 1 bag or 1 can
  • 1 envelope (1 oz) taco seasoning
  • 1 envelope (1 oz) of “secret ingredient” seasoning (Midwesterners eat this stuff on everything, it rhymes with branch pressing)
  • 2 cups of water or low sodium broth


  1. Brown the meat. If using chicken, cook it through, and then dice or shred it and add it back to the pan.
  2. Add the seasonings. Mix well, and then add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the bell pepper and onions are tender.

Serve with whatever toppings you have on hand. I like tortilla chips, shredded cheese, avocado, cilantro, green onion, and sour cream with mine.

Follow Edgar Diaz on Instagram @diptoe

Reception kicks off art show in Seaford

The Nanticoke River Arts Council, featured recently in an Independent article by Cassidy McGurk, opens its Mid-Winter Art Show with an event Friday, Feb. 11, from 5-7 p.m. at Gallery 107 in Seaford. Refreshments will be served.

Meet your representative

State Rep. Jesse Vanderwende is holding a constituent meeting Wednesday, Feb. 9 at the Greenwood CHEER Center. The event starts at 7:30 a.m. and there will be free coffee and snacks. Vanderwende's District 35 covers a hefty chunk of northwest Sussex County.

Local school board elections are coming up

At the most recent Lake Forest School Board meeting, President Earle Dempsey noted that one board seat, currently held by Phillip Thomas, will be up for election in May.

School board elections statewide are held the second Tuesday in May, which is May 10 this year. Other local districts holding elections include Delmar, Laurel, Seaford and Woodbridge, each with one seat open.

The deadline to apply to run in the election is March 4. Find out more about the requirements and download a form here.

Also at the meeting, Superintendent Steven Lucas noted Lake Forest is fully back to in-person learning after the high school temporarily went remote because of staffing issues. He said he’s fairly confident district schools won’t need to go remote anymore.

Motorcycle dealership coming to Seaford

An Indian Motorcycle dealership is moving into the old Hobby Stop building off Route 13 south in Seaford. Indian Motorcycle’s website doesn’t yet list the site in its map of dealers, but the new store has a web page. The page doesn’t specify an opening date, though, and the phone number listed only offered an automated message as of Thursday.

In case you missed it: Stories from the past week

How a group of artists teamed up to promote the arts in Seaford
When Christina Darby moved to Seaford years ago, she asked people where the art museums were located. “People tended to look at me as if I had three heads,” she wrote in an email. The Nanticoke River Arts Council, which now operates Gallery 107 in Seaford, was founded by a
How the once-endangered bald eagle is faring in Delaware
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Deadlines near for Bridgeville election
A number of local elections happen this year, including in Bridgeville where residents will select three of the town’s five commissioners. Important deadlines for that election are coming up soon. The election is set for Saturday, March 5, from noon to 7 p.m., the town says. Seats up for