This week: A worsening hiring crunch for local schools and more local news
Note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Seaford Council member Matt MacCoy's name.
A look back at our recent stories, plus other local news and events:
On Monday we published an article on a teacher shortage and how it's affecting local schools. For years now, schools have had real trouble finding as many teachers as they need to fill open positions, especially for roles like teaching math, science and special education. And leaders in multiple local districts affirm that the problem has gotten worse.
“The most important thing we do is put a quality teacher in that classroom,” Woodbridge Superintendent Heath Chasanov said. “... And if we can’t ensure that there’s a pool of candidates willing to do that, students are ultimately going to suffer.”
Read the full story:
In development news, a delayed 7-Eleven project will break ground soon in a piece of land newly added to Bridgeville at the intersection of Route 13 and Cannon Road.
To the south, Delmar is also growing but it faces issues with older parts of town, specifically some of the underground parts.
"The cost to taxpayers of replacing the pipes is incredibly expensive and the town is scrambling to find ways to fund it," Tony Russo reported.
And in another story from the Delmar area, we don't have a lot of info yet on a fire on Carrolls Avenue near Saint George Road, but we know firefighters found a body inside the home.
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In other news
Accused killer of Seaford woman pleads guilty to manslaughter
A man accused of killing a Seaford woman whose body was found by South Shell Road west of Laurel in 2019 got 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter, the News Journal reported.
Joseph Beck, 35, was charged with murder and abuse of a corpse in the case. Police said he killed Tia Tucker, 34, of Seaford, sometime between March 6 and March 9, 2019. Her body was found with a gunshot wound and news outlets reported it had been mutilated.
Tucker's sister slammed the sentence as inadequate in an interview with The News Journal.
According to Tucker's obituary, she attended both Seaford and Woodbridge high schools, and loved music and shopping.
Wawa finally opening in Seaford
Wawa lovers in Seaford will no longer have to drive the 5 miles all the way up to Bridgeville. The Seaford Wawa, located not far south of Walmart off Route 13, has a grand opening planned for Friday, Nov. 5, according to city Councilman Matt MacCoy. Doors open at 8 a.m., there will be T-shirts for the first 100 customers, and the store will honor health care workers and first responders, McCoy said in a Facebook post.
The Wawa had been planned for a couple of years but hit delays with COVID, contractor Rich Hertzog of Delmarva Veteran Builders told Mayor David Genshaw in a video posted by the city.
Woodbridge homecoming festival delayed to this weekend
The homecoming football game at Woodbridge was last week, but because of bad weather the associated festival was pushed to this Friday before the game against Red Lion. The festival will be from 4:30-7 p.m. in the Woodbridge High School parking lot, with a parade at 6 p.m. The festival features concessions, pumpkin painting, vendors, games and a little late taste of Halloween with a trunk or treat.
Woodbridge football is having a great year, as is their habit. At 8-0 the Blue Raiders are one of only a handful of undefeated teams in the state. First year coach Marvin Dooley has not missed a beat in taking over for Jed Bell. (Dooley's old team, St. Elizabeth, is also 8-0, so apparently he left them in good shape.)
Fire police captain undergoes surgery after crash
Seaford Volunteer Fire Department said in a Facebook post Monday that Fire Police Capt. Ken Tull, 83, who was hit by a vehicle while working at an accident scene over the weekend, is recovering after surgery at Christiana Hospital.
State police said Tull, whom they did not identify in their press release, was directing traffic at an accident scene at the intersection of Cannon Road and Camp Road on Saturday night when a Bridgeville man driving an SUV crashed into him. Tull was wearing a high-visibility traffic vest at the time, police said. The driver was arrested and charged with first-degree vehicular assault and driving under the influence, among other charges. Tull was admitted to the hospital with serious injuries.
The Seaford Volunteer Fire Department did not specify his condition Monday but said he was alert after surgery.
Looking good, southern Delaware
The winners are in for the regional nature photo contest put on by the Friends of Prime Hook, and there are some beauties. You can see some of them in the gallery below, courtesy of the volunteer organization.
Best in show was Edward Crawford's photo of rare (in Delaware) roseate spoonbills, a small group of which have been feeding at Bombay Hook this summer. The Friends of Prime Hook said the birds are more usually found in Florida or the Gulf Coast, and may have been blown north by a storm.
COVID vaccine news
The Department of Health and Social Services is partnering with the Delaware National Guard on several mobile COVID vaccine clinics. Upcoming clinics in the area include one Thursday, Nov. 4 at Dollar General, 701 N. Porter St., Seaford, from 10 a.m. to noon; and Friday, Nov. 5 at Bethel Market, 7743 Main Street, Bethel, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The Division of Public Health also followed the CDC's lead on COVID vaccine guidance for children, announcing Delaware vaccine providers can begin administering the Pfizer pediatric vaccine to children ages 5 to 11.
“This is very exciting news for Delaware in the ongoing fight against COVID,” DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said in a statement. “We have been waiting for the day when we could give our younger school-aged children this very effective layer of protection and let them get back to a more normal childhood. Parents are naturally going to be concerned about rare adverse reactions. What we know is the benefits far outweigh the extremely rare chance of a bad reaction. If my children were in this age group, I would absolutely vaccinate them right away.”
There are about 77,500 children in the 5-11 age group in Delaware, DPH said. It encouraged parents or guardians to first contact their child’s pediatrician to see if they are administering the vaccine.
For a complete list of locations where vaccines are available, visit de.gov/getmyvaccine.
No more freeloading
You might want to consider returning the library books you borrowed a year and a half ago, as Delaware libraries began reinstating late fees as of Nov. 1.
Restoring a rare squirrel
A formerly endangered species is continuing its comeback in Delaware thanks to reintroduction efforts. The Delmarva fox squirrel has made a strong recovery in Maryland but is still rare in Delaware, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control said. But four of the squirrels, two male and two female, were recently moved to Redden State Forest near Georgetown as part of an ongoing effort to restore the population.
The large, silver-gray squirrels have three established populations known in Sussex County, DNREC said: Assawoman Wildlife Area and Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, both reintroduced, and another naturally occurring population at the Nanticoke Wildlife Area and surrounding lands. And now, perhaps, there will be another population at Redden.
The department is planning to bring another 15 or so squirrels to Delaware next spring.