By Tony Russo and Andrew Sharp
Here's a look at news and events from around southern Delaware this week.
Sussex unveils proposed redistricting changes
It will come as no surprise to Sussex County residents that rapid growth over the past decade means current Council districts need a considerable tweak to balance out population between them. District 5 is the only one with a population that doesn't deviate too far from the needed number, County attorney J. Everett Moore told the Council at its Tuesday meeting, and that district is lacking what are called communities of common interest. (District 5 currently runs all the way across the bottom of the county from east to west, encompassing communities like Bethany Beach and Delmar.)
Moore laid out proposed maps that hew fairly closely to ones suggested by the League of Women Voters. These represent a considerable shift, with District 5 now encircling Georgetown, Laurel and Delmar joining Seaford in District 1, and Lewes and Rehoboth becoming part of the same district. The whole process is laid out clearly on the Sussex County website all in one place, along with a slider to compare the current districts with the proposed ones and a form for public comment. The deadline for comment is Friday, Jan. 7 at 4:30 p.m. There will be a public hearing in February.
Moore said they considered cities, towns and school districts among the factors when drawing up the new map.
"We've looked at and listened to what the public was saying ... it's been a long process; a lot of work has gone into this," he said.
Help Kentucky tornado victims
The death toll continues to rise in Kentucky and other states after a slew of tornadoes hit last weekend on Friday and early Saturday. The New York Times reported Wednesday that the toll was up to at least 90, with at least 80 in Kentucky alone. The numbers keep rising as the search goes on, with more missing people confirmed to be dead.
Weller's Utility Trailers in Bridgeville has put out a call for donations of supplies for victims in Kentucky, in cooperation with Mitsdarfer Brothers trucking and other area businesses. Weller's will be a drop-off site for donations, which are being accepted through Friday, Dec. 17.
The businesses plan to deliver tractor-trailer loads of supplies to Kentucky Disaster Relief. Supplies needed include nonperishable food, water, clothes including coats, shoes and gloves, blankets, sleeping bags, batteries, flashlights, candles, baby items, toiletries, first aid supplies, garbage bags, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, pet food, tarps, toys and books.
Weller's is located at 16889 N. Main St., Bridgeville. You can reach them at 302-337-8228.
Laurel wins a state title; Woodbridge falls to Archmere
Congrats to the Laurel Bulldogs, who beat St. Elizabeth 28-14 for the Division 1A state title on Saturday. It's their first title since 1991 when they beat Indian River 29-2, and their fourth state championship in school history, according to the DIAA.
It probably seemed very unlikely to fans in the early 90s that they wouldn't capture a title again for 20 years. Their 1991 title came on the tail end of a great run in the 80s, when they won back-to-back championships in '86 and '87. Laurel has been to the title game three times since '91: 1992, 2008 and 2014. However, they were shut out each time.
Until last year, Woodbridge was in Division II with Laurel, but this year with the split into three divisions, the Blue Raiders played in 2A. They fell in the championship game Saturday to Archmere, 27-0. Woodbridge has been no stranger to the playoffs in recent years. They won Division II state titles in 2016 and 2018, then lost by 1 point to Howard in 2019.
Delmar developer touts rental building plan
During the public comments section of Monday’s Delmar Mayor and Commission meeting, developer Doug Marshall presented plans to add 20 rental buildings to the Heron Pond property outside the Kylan Barn event center. The plan is to have 10 single-wide trailers, each 14 feet wide by 37 feet long along the front and eventually add 10 more behind the facility. Marshall said they are classified as RVs.
“We feel they’re allowed in that zone,” Marshall said. Marshall had not gone through the usual processes that precede coming to the mayor and commission, so whether or not it is acceptable to the planning and zoning commission is unclear until the application process is underway. The proposal is not under consideration, nor was it known to the planning and zoning commission.
The trailers wouldn’t have foundations but rather be up on blocks. They would have permanent connections to the water and sewer lines. The developer brought site plans for the mayor and commission to review, which is uncommon for a plan that hasn’t been reviewed by any of the responsible governing bodies.
Marshall had intended to build a 10-room motel from the converted Country Barn property but the cost was estimated at $1 million, which he felt was too expensive.
— Tony Russo
EasySpeak makes an intriguing move in Milford
EasySpeak Spirits, a restaurant and distillery on Route 14 on the west side of Milford, announced on Facebook on Thursday that it purchased the old bank building in downtown Milford last week.
The business teased that it has "big plans" but is staying quiet about them for now while the details are worked out. It did say that the project could take several years.
Police ask for tips in slaying of Lincoln man this spring
Delaware State Police recently put out a call for any information on the death of Dioandre Gibbs, 33, of Lincoln, who was found with a gunshot wound in a crashed vehicle on May 18.
Police said Frankford Police and Delaware State Police were called to Honolulu Road for a reported shooting, where they found Gibbs. Investigators said he had been shot on Kauffman Lane and tried to drive away, then crashed into a home on Honolulu Road. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Gibbs' family has greatly assisted in the investigation, police said. A $6,000 reward is being offered in partnership with Delaware Crime Stoppers for information leading to an arrest.
Anyone with information should contact Detective Brian McDerby at 302-834-2620 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also provide tips anonymously to Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or online at www.delaware.crimestoppersweb.com.
A time to mourn
For some in Delaware winter can be fatal, and on the first day of winter a remembrance ceremony is planned. The Housing Alliance of Delaware is organizing a candlelight vigil on Dec. 21 at 5 p.m. on The Green in Dover to mark Homeless Person's Memorial Day. The vigil commemorates those who died in emergency shelters from illness or conditions directly related to their homelessness. There will be a ceremonial reading of the names of people who died in the past year.
They'll be collecting "hands and feet" donations for those without homes: Mittens, gloves and socks.
Makeup food distribution planned
The Food Bank of Delaware says one of its trucks did not make it to Monday's food distribution at Crossroad Community Church west of Georgetown, so it will hold another event for those who weren't able to get food.
The new date is Monday, Dec. 20, at 11 a.m. at the church at 20684 State Forest Road, Georgetown. It will be first come, first served and limited to one vehicle per household. Make sure the trunk or back seat is clear, the food bank said.
"If you are in need of assistance, and were not served on Monday, please visit the pantry next week!" the food bank said in its Facebook post.
Greenwood Christmas parade
Town of Bridgeville needs volunteers
After one of the members of the Bridgeville Economic Development Committee resigned because of a busy schedule, the committee is down to five members out of a possible 11, Town Manager Bethany DeBussy told the Bridgeville Commission at its meeting on Monday.
She said the town needs more volunteers for all of its committees and for events like the annual Christmas parade, which just happened Sunday.
Rabid raccoon reported near Georgetown
Another rabid animal case has been reported in Sussex County, following earlier reports of a rabid fox that bit a human, a rabid deer and a rabid skunk. The Delaware Division of Public Health is warning people in the area of West Robbins Road and South Old State Road that a raccoon there tested positive for rabies and may have exposed two dogs.
West Robbins Road and South Old State Road don't intersect, but the general area is near tracts of Redden State Forest northwest of Georgetown and west of Route 113.
If this seems like a lot of rabies cases, it is an uptick from last year. The state has tested about 53 percent more animals this year (185) than in the entirety of last year (121). Of those, 19 tested positive for rabies, more than triple last year's tally of six.
See model train displays at open house
The Delmarva Model Railroad Club is holding an open house on two weekends in January 2022, which sounds like a long time from now but is less than a month away.
On Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 8-9 and 15-16, the club will let visitors look over its more than 8,000 square feet of operating model train layouts in various scales. They'll raffle off a Lionel O-gauge train set, as well as an HO-scale set and an N-scale set, show train videos and offer food and drinks for sale.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Caroling on the Circle in Georgetown
More Santa collaborations with fire companies
Santa will tour Seaford with the volunteer fire department on Friday starting at 6 p.m. You can see the whole route on the department's Facebook page.
He and the Grinch will join Bridgeville's volunteer fire company on a tour of town on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. They'll be out with sirens and lights in Heritage Shores in the morning, then take a lunch break and hit a number of other parts of town in the afternoon.
The Harrington Fire Company's drive-through Kirby and Holloway sale, where you can buy 5-pound loaves of scrapple, is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.